POLICE REFORM AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
The Coalition Government has published its Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill as introduced in the House of Commons yesterday. This follows a Home Affairs Select Committee report on government plans to introduce direct elections for Police and Crime Commissioners.
Chairman of the Authority, Margaret Ollerenshaw said, “the Authority welcomes many aspects of the Bill such as Chief Constables maintaining operational independence and the need for rigorous scrutiny and accountability of policing through an independent body.
The Authority, however, has serious concerns about the proposed changes to governance structures, including the introduction of directly elected Police & Crime Commissioners.”
In relation to the proposals for Police & Crime Commissioners, the Authority’s principal concerns are that:-
- there is no evidence locally that the public want changes to the governance of policing. Many of the proposals made such as setting the police budget, hiring and firing the Chief Constable and setting policing priorities after listening to public opinion are already within the gift of police authorities.
- one individual cannot effectively represent a million plus people and actively engage with them and the myriad of partnerships and other agencies.
- now is not the time to introduce such radical and untested changes to policing, particularly on the back of a sustained fall in crime and the difficult financial scenario already facing the police service. The election process alone is estimated to cost £1.2 million in Cheshire at a time when the Coalition Government requires the Authority to make £9.5m cost savings for policing in the next year.
- the proposed Police and Crime Panel which would act as ‘checks and balances to the power of new Commissioners’ appears to have no ‘teeth’ and limited ability to effectively challenge their decisions.
- a single individual would need a significant number of support staff to enable him or her to be as effective as the current model. This would essentially mean employing staff to carry out the work that police authority Members do now, but at a much greater cost.
- There is a real risk that the new proposals would create conflict between Chief Constables and Commissioners and potentially politicise policing.
Margaret Ollerenshaw added “there is still a way to go before the Bill is enacted and we continue to seek your views, come along to one of our Police Question Time Meetings in January and let us know what you think about the new proposals.”
| ||All meetings start at 7pm|
|Monday 10 January||Municipal Buildings, Earle Street, Crewe, CW1 2BJ|
|Tuesday 11 January||Memorial Hall, Chester way, Northwich, CW9 5QJ|
|Thursday 13 January||Gateway Centre, Sankey Street, Warrington, WA1 1SR|
|Monday 17 January||Methodist Church Hall, Macclesfield, SK10 1BX|
|Thursday 20 January||St Mary;s centre, off Castle Street, Chester, CH1 2DW|
|Wednesday 26 January||Town Hall, Heath Road, Runcorn, WA7 5TN|