The first police and crime commissioner (PCC) in England and Wales has been elected in Wiltshire, as vote results are awaited in 40 other police areas.
Conservative Angus Macpherson was elected as Wiltshire’s PCC ahead of the Labour candidate after second preference votes were counted.
The first PCC elections face likely controversy over reported low turnouts.
Turnout was 14.3% in Gwent, 13.5% in Greater Manchester, and some West Midlands councils reported 12-13%.
In Wiltshire, where 15.3% – 78,794 people out of a total electorate of 514,855 – voted, returning officer Stephen Taylor said some people had complained about a lack of information.
“People have emailed and contacted us saying that they didn’t know enough about the candidates in order to be able to make a choice, and obviously that’s something I have no control over,” he told BBC News.
He added: “It would be good to have some analysis afterwards a
nd see whether there are any lessons to be learned.”
Mr Macpherson said: “I think it’s incumbent on all police commissioners as we all take office to actually develop this job and let people know what it is.”
‘Middle of winter’
The Electoral Reform Society has branded the government’s handling of the elections a “comedy of errors”
The society predicted a turnout of 18.5%, which would be below the previous record low in a national poll in peacetime of 23% in the 1999 European elections.
Policing minister Damian Green said the PCCs were a new idea that would need time for people to get used to.
“Millions of people voted yesterday – nobody ever voted for the chair of a police authority so there’s clearly a democratic mandate that wasn’t there before,” he said.
“The measure of this policy is not the turnout, it’s what the police and crime commissioners achieve over the next few years,” he told ITV1’s Daybreak programme.
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What will police commissioners do?
PCCs will be responsible for appointing chief constables
They will set local policing priorities and report annually on progress
They will set the force budget and community safety grants
They will be overseen by police and crime panels
See our Q&A for more details
But Labour’s Chuka Umunna said: “It has been a total shambles and the £100m spent on it could have been spent on 3,000 police officers.
“At least if you are going to have the elections,
organise them properly and don’t have them in the middle of winter.”
Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry said: “I’ve been out on the doorsteps and people did not want to go out in the cold and they didn’t want to go out in the fog, they didn’t have enough information on what was happening.”
Meanwhile, Labour has held its seats in by-elections in both Manchester Central and Cardiff South and Penarth, and is hopeful of taking a seat from the Conservatives in Corby.
In the Manchester Central parliamentary by-election, Labour candidate Lucy Powell (11,507) won with a majority of 9,936. Liberal Democrat Marc Ramsbottom (1,571) c
ame second and Conservative Matthew Sephton (754) came in third.
The turnout of 18.16% is believed to be the lowest in a UK parliamentary by-election since World War II.
Ms Powell said: “With this result Manchester Central has sent this Tory-Lib Dem government a message – a clear message that we think their policies are wrong and unfair.”
In Cardiff South and Penarth, Labour’s Stephen Doughty won with 9,193 votes, Conservative Craig Williams came second with 3,859 and Lib Dem Bablin Molik was third with 2,103. Labour’s majority was 5,334 and the turnout was 25.65%.
Mr Doughty said his victory was a “condemnation” of the policies and priorities of the Westminster government.
The result in the Corby by-election, which is
seen as a crucial mid-term test of David Cameron’s premiership, is expected at about 13:00 GMT.
If Labour wins, it would be the first time in 15 years the party has taken a Tory seat at a by-election.
The contest was triggered by the resignation of Louise Mensch, the high-profile former member of the Commons media select committee, who stood down after just over two years to relocate to New York with her family.
Mrs Mensch had a majority of less than 2,000 in a constituency that has regularly swung between Tory and Labour over the past 30 years – with voters always opting for the party that goes on to form a government.
Voters in Bristol have also been to the polls to choose the city’s first directly-elected mayor.