While there is quite a big election process going on across the pond, us Brits are being asked to vote for who should hold our police force to account. The Government has decided that police forces should be overseen by police commissioners, not police authorities. I would wager that probably 70% of the population do not know the difference. I am guessing even more of you don’t give a shit. But if one or two of you ar intrigued by the difference, police authorities consisted of 17 members made up of councillors, magistrates and independents who all helped oversee their regional police force (a police authority per region). There were pros and cons to this set-up. Having such a quantity of members meant that you could balance out the slightly ‘dodgy’ ones. For instance there might be the odd councillor who was well past retirement age and would only wake-up in public meetings to formally ‘agree’ on agenda items. This particular lady was so efficent at it, I thought she might be battery operated – asleep most of the time and then when the magic words from the chairman came ‘all agreed?’ She would wake-up bolt upright “AGREE” and then nod off again – brilliant! Another chap was as politically correct as Prince Phillip and would regularly use inappropriate metaphors on prostitution and rape to describe the most trivial subjects.
My experience of my local police authority gave me an insight into why you shouldn’t just opt for the person representing your favoured party without first looking at their own personal views on things. Most of the councillors I observed were complete and utter muppets (not a good attitude to have if you are serious about tackling domestic violence).
The members that seemed to make the most sense were the independent representatives who had led busy commercial lives and had not been affected by party politics. They seemed to be the ones that asked the Chief Officer Group the most sensible questions and did not use their status in the police authority for point scoring amongst their peers (unlike some councillors). I remember one councillor very inappropriately appeared at a murder investigation in his local area and started commentating on the investigation publicly because he was a “police authority member” and thought that this would go down well with his constituents – crass to say the least.
But I re-iterate at least there were 16 other members to counteract the occasional stupid or misguided actions of one of the other members. Now the Government is scaling it all down to one police commissioner, we need to make sure that one person is up to the job. I checked out the candidates for my local area and only one independent is standing and I quite liked his election statement although I think the Labour and Liberal Democrats are stronger. The UKIP candidate sounds like Dickson of Dock Green with his old fashioned policing rhetoric (there is a reason why police is more targeted these days – what’s the point in putting bobbys in dock green when the crime is happening 30 miles away – oh I forgot as long as an old lady felt reassured that she saw a policeman walk past her window the other day thats OK – thats not policing) They are also the kind of people that complain of youths hanging around in groups, while intimidating, they may not actually be committing a crime.
Whats frightening is that some of the muppets I mentioned earlier are actually standing for election. So, what I am trying to say is this – when you get your ballot papers through, dont just go for the party you always go for visit http://www.choosemypcc.org.uk/ and check out what their plans are for policing in your area and see if you agree.
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Thanks for reading.