Monday, 31 May 2010

Police opposition to politicisation



Independent Police chiefs in Kent have rediculed and lambasted the Liberal Democrat and Conservative proposals to hand the running of constabularies over to “politically-motivated” commissioners elected by the public.

Controversial plans were announced in the Queen's Speech within the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, much to the dismay of several key Police figures who are very concerned at the chasing of votes which could take priority over the pursuit of criminals.

Kent Police Authority chairwoman Ann Barnes, also deputy chair of the Association of Police Authorities – said the scheme appeared to be driven “purely by dogma” and was “undermined by the absence of debate”.

Rochester & Strood MP Mark Reckless, who sits on the Kent Police Authority is a known and ardent supporter of the plan for elected police chiefs. Ann Barnes statement is therefore a direct snub to his position and will no doubt make his position on the Authority uncomfortable. Mark pledged to make policing a priority in Kent, so he now needs to clarify whether he will take the advice of experts and the police themselves, or is to allow the politisation of the police force, an idea with no expert support at all.

Anne Barnes added:

“Senior police officers and many MPs and peers of all parties have already commented on the dangers to our highly-acclaimed model which keeps policing free from party-political interference, but we fear the public is unaware of the turmoil that may be unleashed by these fresh proposals. The present model has built-in checks and balances that enable police authorities to represent the views of local people when shaping the local service."

“Police authorities want to ensure policing continues to be influenced at local and national levels by community voices – not by unconstrained individuals who may have a politically-motivated agenda.”

KPA currently consists of 17 non-elected board members, including a mix of independents and different party members from Kent County Council and Medway Council. Should the ConDem plans for directly-elected commissioners get the go-ahead, just one person will be afforded responsibility for the running of the county force.

This blog will oppose this farce of a Liberal Democrat and Conservative proposal. Elected candidates will always be beholden to interest groups, political parties and worrying about reelection prospects over the interests of the public. It will skew resources to particular areas and focuses at the expense of crime which may have little profile but high impact. In addition, putting trust into an elected chief, who may have little or no knowledge of policing is a significant risk to reduction in crime levels we have seen since 1997.

Crime has seen significant reductions since 1997 and was a major success of the previous Labour Government. This will be undermined by ConDem cuts to police budgets but also undermined by elected police chiefs who may have no knowledge of policing.


Kent Police Federation chairman Ian Pointon said: “What’s broken? We have a robust authority here in Kent, led by an excellent chairwoman who does hold the force to account, and one that consists of good people who bring different abilities, skills and expertise to the table."

Not one police officer or police chief wants this rank politicisation of the police. Liberal Democrat members should be ashamed. They stood to oppose this plan in the General Election and have duped there voters once again.

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