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Comment: PCCs - ‘Unloved And Unwanted’

Government is intent on flawed reform of police governance – despite warnings from police professionals, says Royston Martis

The Coalition Government pushes on merrily with its big plans for policing – this week, it’s the turn of police and crime commissioners to hit the headlines.

Despite vehemently opposing their introduction, on Monday Labour announced its 41 candidates for the posts across England and Wales. And Conservative candidates continue to be named.

Yes folks, in less than six months this is going to happen.

In November, to make the service more democratically accountable to the public, millions and millions of people [no really] across England and Wales will go to the polling booths to vote for their preferred candidates to be police and crime commissioners.

According to Home Secretary Theresa May in a big splash for the Daily Telegraph this week, these new peoples’ champions will have a "mandate from the public allowing them to get things done" when it comes to policing.

The idea comes from America. Think Commissioner Gordon in the Batman TV show.

It will revolutionise the service in England and Wales. And so on.

Well, I don’t believe the hype. Unlike the government, I listen to the policing professionals. Never have I come across an idea in that is so universally despised by officers and staff of all ranks. From top to bottom, no one wants it.

In an instant, policing will become political. The independent office of constable will be at huge risk of losing that crucial independence.

It’s not just me. A YouGov poll of 1,711 people this week said only a third thought police and crime commissioners in England and Wales are a good idea.

And what about this powerful mandate PCCs will be voted in under? Will people really travel to the polling booths in their millions and millions on November 15?

Of course they won’t. The middle of November is usually cold, wet and miserable.

Only 65 per cent of the public turned out for the 2010 General Election. That halved in the 2012 local elections with turnout around 32 per cent. And both those elections were in May and for things people knew about.
I predict a worryingly low turnout for PCC elections - despite expensive police and crime commissioner publicity campaigns that will clearly need to be launched as we approach the late autumn ballot.

This brings me to the cost of this exercise. Depending on who you listen to, around £130 million will be spent on the police and crime commissioner process.

Labour believes that for that we could have 3,000 more Bobbies on the Beat.

I know as a taxpayer which one I would prefer.

We live in democracy and our elected government wants to push ahead with this. The Police Service will make the best of what is frankly being imposed on it when it comes to PCCs.

But, with apologies to Millwall Football Club, the whole introduction of police and crime commissioners makes me think…

No one likes them.
No one wants them.
No one will vote for them.
They don’t care.

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