MOST of us will have heard Conservative commentators or politicians extolling the virtues of small government.

It is therefore more than a little ironic that it was the Conservatives who created yet another layer of local bureaucracy in 2012.

On top of parish councils, district councils and county councils, (not to mention health boards) they created the elected office of police and crime commissioner.

An import from US practice, there was no great public clamour for it but they introduced it anyway. The result was an almost unprecedented degree of public apathy for the idea.

The notion was that PCCs would represent people power over policing. The result has been very different and the average turnout for the first PCC election in 2012 was a miserable average of 15per cent, almost the lowest turnout for any major election ever. Turnouts for general elections, by contrast, are about 70per cent.

This number improved somewhat in 2016, almost certainly because the PCC elections were held in conjunction with local council elections, but they still languished at an unimpressive 23 to 25per cent.

It's not difficult to see why.

The government had no clear vision for the role of PCCs and the general public couldn't see what they were for at all.

What they did see was that the government was spending their cash on an additional layer of police bureaucracy while crime goes up.

The public nationally is gradually losing faith in the ability of the police to protect them. Most of us take the view the job of police is to prevent and solve crime and any changes to the police should be judged by that criterion.

On that measure, PCCs have not improved things at all. Many have made things worse; interfering with the decision making of professional chief constables, and being little more than enthusiastic amateurs.

Thames Valley has a police and crime commissioner. Hands up those who can actually name him?

Most people in the community just want the police to go about their business and feel safe. Few in Bicester will think that things have improved recently and the local press has reflected that.

Residents report threatening mobs in Pioneer Square deterring the public and in particular the elderly.

Meanwhile, vandals and other undesirables are reported to have been running amok in the library leading to complaints from staff and unwelcome front page headlines.

Aggressive begging is on the increase, cyclists ride with impunity through pedestrianised areas and things generally feel less safe.

Meanwhile it's almost impossible to spot a police presence in the town centre. If there have been any improvements under the uncertain stewardship of our anonymous PCC it’s difficult to identify them.

The Conservatives may like to think of themselves as an anti-bureaucratic party but the fact is it will take the election of a Labour government to strip away this unnecessary layer of bureaucracy.

We will remove PCCs and put the money back into front line policing.