Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Elected police commissioners seem an increasingly bad idea

I have no fundamental objection to the introduction of elected police commissioners, and the police must be democratically accountable is some way, but I have never been clear what problem this initiative is designed to solve.

Now, if Michael Crick is right, comes news that the introduction of elected commissioners is to be bungled:
The Conservatives are seriously considering not standing candidates for the elections for the new elected police commissioners which are due to take place next May - providing the legislation gets through parliament ...

Rather than stand candidates under the Conservative banner, the party is actively considering instead whether to put its support behind other contenders, such as prominent and distinguished local individuals who decide to stand for the posts, perhaps as independents.
Local newspapers are full of loud-mouthed businessmen who announce that the local council is useless and that they will stand at the next election so that they can ensure it is properly run. Usually they are never heard of again. But it seems that they will now be backed by the Conservatives.

It is not fashionable to defend political parties, and every party finds it hard to find candidates these days, but we do need them to weed out the more obvious crooks and incompetents.

Instead it seems that the Conservatives are to abdicate this responsibility, while keeping the faintly anti-democratic philosophy that was behind the idea in the first place. As with elected mayors, they want someone who will knock heads together and get things done.

Meanwhile, Crick reminds us, the BNP and UKIP are certainly planning to fight police commissioner elections. The dangers are obvious and the Conservatives should drop the whole idea. At the very least, they should have the courage and nous to fight the elections they intend to land us with.


Anonymous said...

What electoral system are they using for these commissioners.

I know Tories think it's the dogs danglies, but now the AV referendum is over, perhaps its time for them to admit that FPTP would not be a good idea for electing police chiefs as a divided field could easily let in a BNP candidate.

Quite a good excuse to watch this though...

Mark Marsh said...

Directly elected police chiefs looking for positive headlines to help win our votes. I wonder where that could lead?

Pat said...

It's interesting to hear a Liberal complaining that Tories aren't standing for office.
I presume that this attitude extends to local government and general elections.
Perhaps if you promised to vote for them it might encourage them?