Labour’s Kim McGuinness has been elected as Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) – following a by-election with a turnout of just 15%.

The councillor, who represents the Lemington ward in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, won the by-election in two rounds, beating her nearest challenger, the independent candidate Georgina Hill.

Speaking at Sunderland’s Silksworth Community Pool, Tennis and Wellness Centre on Friday, she told the assembled crowd: “Everyone knows that I am extremely passionate about this region, I like to talk about it more than anything else.

“I’ll do everything in my power to live up to the trust placed in me and it’s a true honour to have the opportunity do so.”

She added: “Residents in Northumbria have had enough of the impact of austerity on their police force and on their lives more generally.

“It is false and disingenuous that this government is saying to people in this region that austerity is working.”

Also standing were Robbie Moore, Conservative, and Jonathan Wallace, Liberal Democrats, who were both eliminated in the first round of voting with 33,267 and 28,623 votes respectively.

Coun McGuinness earned 58,355 votes in that round to Ms Hill’s 33,704, and clung on to her lead in the second round – where the second preferences from Mr Moore’s and Mr Wallace’s voters resulted in Coun McGuinness getting a total of 67,332 to Ms Hill’s 61,633

A total of 2,041 votes were rejected in the first round of voting, of which more than 1,500 are understood to be as a result of people misunderstanding the voting process.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Overall turnout was 15% of the 1,041,562-strong electorate, a fall from the 31.4% that voted in the 2016 Northumbria PCC elections but a rise from the 10.4% figure turnout during the last PCC by-election, which was in the West Midlands in August 2014.

Speaking with PA following her victory, councillor McGuinness accepted that the turnout figure was low.

She said: “I think we’ve had a by-election in the middle of the summer with very short notice, 35 days to turn out to vote in an election, and I think that’s really difficult for people.”

Asked whether the figure for the number of rejected votes in the PCC election was high she said “it is”, and accepted that those ballots “could have” made a difference to the other three candidates in the first round.

The PCC post involves governing the Northumbria Police force, which covers the Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland local authorities.

The by-election was triggered after Dame Vera Baird, who was elected as the region’s first commissioner back in 2012 representing Labour, stepped down in order to become the new Victims’ Commissioner.

Dame Vera said of the move: “I will be very sad to leave my role as a Police and Crime Commissioner and my super staff, and all we achieved together with Northumbria Police.

“This new role will help me to build on my experience of victim and witness needs that I gained as a PCC and when I was in government.”