Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Memorandum submitted by Alan Dewberry (PR 39)

I would like to make comment on the proposal in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill of police authorities being scrapped from 2012 and replaced by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) who would hold the police to account on behalf of the public.

There are a number of factors that I feel makes this a poor proposal and one that the Government Police And the general public may well regret.

· If it is not broken why fix it.  The present position provides for local accountability from local councillors, magistrates and the public to be part of the authority that holds the Chief Constable to task as well as seeking what the public want.  This is checked by HMIC on their regular visits.  The big question is therefore what will the Police Commissioner give that the Police Authority cannot. 

· Elections.  The cost of such elections at a time when public services are being cut appears to be a gross misuse of funding.

· Turn out.  The turnout for such an election is likely to be very poor.  This leaves the opportunity for some minority groups to ensure that they have strong support from their followers with the potential that we get some people in strong positions with their own agenda that is not that of the general public.

· Politicising the Police – Although there are councillors representing various political parties this does not reflect in the police authority.  There is potential for the Commissioner to be political and side for or against the government

· Commissioner biased towards popularity rather than what is best for the Police and the Public.  The commissioner will be seeking re-election and is therefore unlikely to go against opinion especially that driven by the media as this will possibly put them in the wrong light.

· Overall cost.  The commissioner will be paid a high wage and will need support, why do we need this when police resources at the sharp end are being cut.

I have spoken with numerous people on this subject and have not as of yet found anyone who supports this proposal nor any that can understand the logic for it.

I would hope that sense prevails and that this proposal is not ratified.

January 2011