Yvette Cooper on the HoL vote on elected police commissioners:
The House of Lords vote on elected police commissioners will show whether the Liberal Democrats are really prepared to raise a “louder voice” on their policy concerns, and whether the Tories are really prepared to listen. But behind the coalition power politics is also a vital issue of principle: these US-style proposals pose significant risks for our centuries-old British tradition of impartial policing.
We have ‘impartial policing’ right now, do we? With all the hate crime and domestic violence units, the ‘community engagement teams’?
Not to mention the likes of the West Midlands Police’s ‘anti-Muslim defamation squad’ monitoring the nation’s broadcasters…
Nick Clegg has promised a more “businesslike relationship” after disaster at the polls, and is desperate to show a bit of Lib Dem muscle. His parliamentary aide has put police and crime commissioners second on the list – after the NHS – of results the Lib Dems need.
What a telling phrase – ‘results the LibDems need’. Not ‘results the country needs’…
… the plans cut across the principles espoused by all parties, and across our British constitutional traditions too.
Considerable policing power will be put into the hands of a single politician, elected only once every four years. They will have the power to hire and fire chief constables, but there are no proper checks and balances on their power. The policing and crime panel is just a toothless watchdog with no power to intervene.Nor are there proper safeguards for the operational independence of the police. The government’s guidance that the commissioners should not “fetter” operational independence has no statutory force, and isn’t strong enough to protect against interference in individual cases.
Funny to see Yvette, Mrs Ed Balls herself, suddenly professing to worry about our ‘British constitutional traditions’, isn’t it? The more the usual suspects (and the police themselves) scream and kick against this idea, the more I begin to warm to it…
… these plans are opposed by former police chiefs, by crime and justice experts, constitutional experts and, according to a recent poll, by the majority of the public too.
See? What’s not to like? If these ‘worthies’ are agin’ it, I’m for it! They wouldn’t, after all, be so keen to stop it unless it was a real chance for people to have a say, would they?