DO you know who I am?
That is perhaps what the woman in charge of ensuring Sunderland’s policing needs are met should be asking Wearsiders.
Almost 90 per cent of people cannot name the police and crime commissioner (PCC) for their area, according to a new poll by the Electoral Reform Society.
We asked shoppers at The Bridges if they could identify former MP Vera Baird as their PCC, and what they thought of the new role.
“I’ve never heard of her,” said Terry Telford, 48, from Sunderland. “I didn’t vote because I just didn’t care about it.
“The money could have been spent on other things like schools. It’s a waste of money.”
Gloria Carpentier, 77, from South Shields, also failed to name the woman who has the power to set Northumbria Police’s budget and hire and fire chief constables.
“Up to now, it’s not made any difference,” she said. “We weren’t told anything about it.”
Lillian Lascelles, 78, from Houghton, has heard of the PCC role, but said Ms Baird was the only candidate she had been aware of. “There wasn’t enough information, and she was the only one who publicised herself,” she said.
Judith Shotton’s husband works for the police, so she does know who Ms Baird is.
However, the 49-year-old, from Sunderland, questioned whether people thought the new PCC role – which replaced existing police authorities in 41 force areas – was valid.
“I think the difficulty is that people see it as another tier,” she said.
“I don’t think ordinary people understand what they’re for or the benefits.”
The Electoral Reform Society survey claimed that November’s PCC elections – which saw a turnout of just 16.4 per cent in Sunderland – “failed both candidates and voters alike”.
Ms Baird blamed the way it was set up by the Government, but today said more and more people are beginning to understand the purpose of the new post.
“In the last few weeks we have consulted a lot of people about the police and crime plan, so even if they do not know my name, they are understanding what the Police and Crime Commissioner is.”
She added: “I have no interest in being a personality.
“What I want is for people to know where to come to about policing and get used to the idea that there is a Police and Crime Commissioner – that’s what matters.”