Independent is new West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner

By Connie Osborne Friday 16 November 2012 Updated: 22/11 11:26

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Buy photos » Bill Longmore has begun work as the new Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia. (s)

INDEPENDENT candidate Bill Longmore has swept to victory after being elected as West Mercia's first ever Police and Crime Commissioner.

The former police officer beat rivals with 71,955 votes after two rounds of counting, having failed to pick up 50 per cent of the vote first time round.

During the campaign Mr Longmore, who spent 30 years with Staffordshire Police, promised to ensure local policing teams were properly resourced, tackle anti-social behaviour and improve the relationship between the police and partner organisations such as the council, community and voluntary sector.

He also pledged to monitor police numbers and challenge the Government on cuts which compromise the effective delivery of frontline policing.

Labour candidate Dr Simon Murphy was eliminated after the first round with only 34,652 votes.

When Dr Murphy's votes were redistributed to the other two candidates based on their second preference, Mr Longmore received over 21,000 votes compared to just 5,201 for Mr Blackshaw, leaving him with a final total of 54,499 votes.

Despite the fact Dr Murphy had come first in Redditch and Worcester, he failed to win support across the rest of Worcestershire and the majority of West Mercia.

In the borough, Dr Murphy received the most votes with 2,688 originally beating Mr Longmore by 150 votes. Mr Blackshaw came last with 2,242 votes.

In neighbouring Warwickshire independent candidate Ron Ball was also celebrating after being elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for the county.

It has been hailed the worst turnout in the UK's history, something which was echoed in Redditch where only 7,824 people turned out.

In the Bromsgrove section of the vote, Conservative Adrian Blackshaw won by just five votes.

He notched up 3,631, with independent Bill Longmore finishing second with 3,626. Labour's Simon Murphy finished third wth 2,244.

It was a disappointing turnout, with just 13.3 per cent of those eligible across the district using their right to choose.

In total 9,777 voted, but there were 276 rejected ballot papers.

The new commissioner will be responsible for setting West Mercia Police's budget, policing priorities and hiring or firing the chief constable, although the force will retain operational independence so decisions about investigations cannot be influenced by politics.

Nationally turnout is predicted as just 18.5 per cent, a record low. The Electoral Reform Society has described the election as a 'comedy of errors'.

Votes cast in Redditch were verified at the Town Hall last night before being escorted to Shrewsbury for counting as Shropshire Council is overseeing the election for the West Mercia area.

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