Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Commissioners for Crime and Police

Do I want a “politically elected commissioner” (where did they get that phrase?) presiding over my police force? It covers 6 local authorities – five are urban and damn near Tory free zones, the remaining council can’t really decide what it is but it is rural with distinctive problems and issues. At the moment the Police Authority has representatives from all areas on it and all (major) political persuasions are represented at the top table together with a leavening of non-party members. Barring a freak of turnout the commissioner will be elected from the urban area and will (with a struggle) get their mind around most of the problems of the urban areas. The rural areas will not be represented at the top seat (unless they have unfairly won the commissioner elections!). I want such a system to fail. I want my police force to believe that they should ignore their tsar and continue approximately as before (they are not perfect and are still recovering from when they were last politicised in the mid 1980s), I don’t want them dancing to the tune of someone representing one voice (no matter which party that voice is). I don’t want them to feel bound by a “majority” that may be less than 10% of those eligible to vote. (Don’t the Tories believe that Trade Union strike ballots should have 50% of those eligible to vote voting in favour for the result to have credibility?)

I have got one tacky leaflet (appealing to base instincts) asking me to vote politically for a commissioner next week – I doubt I will get any others because the election system is crippled by lack of money. People may feel they have no choice but to “vote their party ticket” for lack of information. The oath “to serve without fear or favour” does not reassure me. To be re-elected the commissioner will know that they have to keep their selection committee happy – and the selection committee has no “without fear or favour” obligation. Why should they – they are a political organisation!

Next Thursday night will we see on the TV results programmes maps of England and Wales with force areas coloured red and blue? I expect we will – together with projections as to what this would mean in a general election, a Liberal spokesman saying “this is a truly dreadful night for our party” and Labour and Tory spokesmen trying to out-spin each other.

And will policing be any better?
I feel sick.


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3 thoughts on “Commissioners for Crime and Police

  1. I believe that most of the counting for the PCC elections will be during Friday daytime. I expect any Thursday night election programme will be looking at the Corby by-election and the other elections that are also taking place.

  2. OK so the maps will wait until Friday’s Newsnight (if the programme still exists!), but we will still get the party spokesmen on Thursday but commenting on Corby!

  3. The dreaded maps showing the political make up of our police forces are now available.
    Wikipedia (Creative Commons) map of PCC Election Results
    (Wikipedia (Creative Commons) map of PCC Election Results)
    Blue is where the boys in blue are Tory supervised
    Red is where they are Labour supervised
    Grey is where independents are supervising
    I wonder if these maps may guide criminals towards particular areas? I suspect that, at a crude approximation, Labour draws its support from urban areas whilst the Conservatives draw their support from rural areas. So don’t go Rioting or TWOCing in Labour areas and don’t go poaching, rustling or farm robbing in Conservative areas.

    The BBC is also showing a map of turnout making very clear that “apathy” won. It is however more likely that antipathy won – not only are blogs and comments full of comments saying the police should not be politicised, but also TV news coverage of “vox pops” also seem to be saying “why are we having to elect commissioners?”.

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