A NEWLY-elected police and crime commissioner said the poor turn-out in the election reflected the "anger on the doorstep" during the election campaign.
Labour’s Ron Hogg comfortably won the race to be named Durham’s police and crime commissioner, but on a turn-out of less than 15 per cent of the electorate.
Mr Hogg said: "There are reasons why the turnout was so low. It was a first time election, there was poor publicity around the process and the role and the fact that it was in November didn’t help.
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"There has been a lot of anger on the doorstep from people saying they don’t know what the role is.
"There is now a real challenge for political parties to re-engage with communities".
During a 30-year police career leading up to his retirement in 2008, Mr Hogg served as assistant chief constable of Durham and deputy chief constable of Cleveland, making him the most senior former officer in the country to be elected to the new post of commissioner.
He won by a comfortable margin, taking 51.6 per cent of first preference votes ahead of nearest rival Kingsley Smith, the Independent former chief executive of Durham County Council, on 26.8 per cent.
UKIP’s Mike Costello finished third with 11.8 per cent of the vote ahead of Conservative Nick Varley on 9.8 per cent.
Speaking as the results were announced at the Louisa Centre, in Stanley this afternoon (November 16) Mr Hogg said among his first priorities would be to sort out the appointment of a permanent chief constable, with Mike Barton’s temporary contract due to expire in January, and cut the administration costs at the current police authority.
He said: "I want to reduce the £1.2m police authority budget and take a good hard look to see where we can make efficiencies to protect frontline police jobs.
"I am not saying they have been wasteful but we do need to look at where savings can be made."
In terms of policing priorities, Mr Hogg said while he had campaigned on issues such as anti-social behaviour and drug and alcohol misuse, the two issues which repeatedly came up on the doorstep were the problems cause by private landlords and also speeding.
However, he said he saw no reason to abandon Durham’s long-standing policy of not having fixed speed cameras.
He said: "Speed cameras are there to solve a problem and once that problem is solved you should move on, otherwise they appear to be a punishment."
Mr Hogg, who lives in Chester-le-Street, said he planned to work at least one day a week in Darlington to be more accessible to residents and also planned to set up citizens panels in all seven of the force area’s Parliamentary constituencies "to act as my eyes and my ears and my conscience."
Speaking moments after the result was declared, Temporary Chief Constable Mike Barton said: "Ron Hogg is absolutely a man I can do business with - he is a diligent, committed and wise public servant who has experience of policing and understands the concept of operational independence.
"I have never worked with Ron before, our paths never crossed, but his concentration on looking after victims of crime is absolutely right".
He added: "I am pleased the uncertainty is now over and we can move on with the real business of catching criminals and keeping our communities safe."
RESULT (1st preference votes) Ron Hogg (Lab) - 36171 (51.6%) Kingsley Smith (Ind) - 18813 (26.8%) Mike Costello (UKIP) - 8257 (11.8%) Nick Varley (Cons) - 6900 (9.8%) Turn out - 14.7%