FORMER Labour MP Vera Baird accused the Government of “bungling incompetence” over the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in her first speech after being elected to the Northumbria force post.

The former Solicitor General and Redcar MP, who lost her Parliamentary seat at the last General Election, won 56 per cent of the vote on a turnout of 16.8 per cent.

Speaking after her victory was announced at Sunderland Tennis Centre, she said: “What government could devise a new post intended to promote democratic links between the public and the police and not tell the public properly about it?

“What Government could decide to hold an election for a brand new post unlike anything else we have ever had before in the depths of winter?

“The low turnout is not the fault of the candidates. It’s down to the bungling incompetence of this Tory Government, aided by their Liberal Democrat henchmen, and their determination to play politics with policing.

“This low vote is not apathy – it’s antipathy from the public at being treated by this Government like this.”

Ms Baird said the Government had failed to get elected mayors in many cities so introduced PCCs without referenda in an attempt to smuggle Tories pretending not to be Tories into the north where, she claimed, they would never get elected in any other way.

Ms Baird won in all six areas of Northumbria with Conservative Phil Butler, a former policeman, only coming close in Northumberland.

Mr Butler won 25.6 per cent of the vote overall. He thanked staff for manning the 820 polling stations, joking some had passed the time by writing Christmas cards.

UKIP’s Alistair Baxter took third place with 10.6 per cent, beating Liberal Democrat Peter Andras into fourth on 7.8 per cent.

Northumbria Police Chief Constable Sue Sim welcomed Ms Baird to the post.