The Communist Party opposes the current elections for police and crime commissioners. These positions downgrade the role of democratically elected councillors, concentrating power in the hands of one person. Like the election of mayors, these "commissioners" will facilitate privatisation and are likely, on US experience, to lead to cronyism and corruption.

These elected positions were also introduced by the unelected coalition government without any consultation with the general public and without any mandate derived from either the Conservative or Lib-Dem election manifestos.

The conditions for standing in these elections also make participation virtually impossible for ordinary working class people. The deposit that must be paid, and is lost if a candidate obtains less than 5% of the vote, is £5000. These elections will be dominated by the usual political parties and candidates with personal wealth.

However, these elections are taking place. Turnout is predicted to be as low as 15% in some areas. This leaves the door wide open for far right and fascist candidates who "talk tough on crime". It is very welcome that there are no fascist candidates in the South West this time.

We welcome the fact that in the region all the Labour candidates except for one are women. The Labour Party candidates are also standing on a broadly anti-cuts platform. The Labour Party's national statement, prioritising the fight against sexual violence and violence against women and girls is also welcome.

We urge everyone to use their vote to keep out the Tory and UKIP candidates.