CLAIMS that the public is clueless about local Police and Crime Commissioners have been borne out in Dorset.

Martyn Underhill earns £70,000 a year and has the power to set police priorities and budgets and to hire and fire the Chief Constable.

But a street survey carried out by the Daily Echo in Bournemouth revealed no one knows his name or his role.

We asked 20 people of varying ages, all resident in the county.

All were unable to name him, which mirrored a national study carried out earlier this week by the Electoral Reform Society.

The society said the elections held last year “failed both candidates and voters alike” and had a turnout of just 15 per cent.

Society Chief Executive Katie Ghose said: “This was a flagship policy designed to reconnect the public and the police yet, after spending £75 million, 90 per cent of Britons have no idea who their elected Police and Crime Commissioner even is.”

Kate Short from Christchurch said: “I didn't vote in the elections because I didn't know anything about it. All I had was one leaflet through the letter box but you can't vote if you don't know what you're voting for.”

Tony Gillett from Bear Cross said: “He gets paid a lot of money but I have no idea what he is supposed to be doing. I think it's a load of rubbish.”

And Linda Winter from Poole added: “I didn't know anything about the candidates so I didn't vote because I like to know what I am voting for.”

Aidan Edwards from St Ives said: “I had the opportunity to vote but I didn't take it because there was a general lack of information. The public should have known more about it.”

The Home Office has defended the elections. A spokesman said: “More than five million people turned out to vote for the first ever election of Police and Crime Commissioners, giving them an infinitely bigger mandate than the unelected and invisible police authorities they replaced.”

Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill said he agreed with criticism of the election but said he has met around 3,000 people in public meetings since he took on the role and does his best to interact with the public every day.

Mr Underhill said: “The way the elections were advertised and implemented was appalling.

“The day before the PCC elections, while I was campaigning in Poole and Wimborne, I was meeting people who had no idea what they were about. In addition, television advertising was poor and failed to explain the role.

“Despite all these issues I was humbled to win in every area of Dorset.”