Elect Police Authorities, not Commissioners….
This government wants to give communities the power to elect police and crime commissioners which is one of those ideas that sounds potentially marvelous until you actually think about it.
Its worth pointing out at this stage that Police Authorities, comprised as they are of elected councilors and also unelected community representatives, are in many ways more democratic than the proposed Commissioners – however, more of that later.
First we have to dispel the myth that although they will be directly elected this will necessarily work in the favour of the left. In fact, increasing the overt (as opposed to covert) politicisation of the police opens up an entirely new can of worms. On the plus side it brings reality more ‘out into the open’, however, for example, since we do not operate a federal system of government in this country we will begin to see uneven application of a centralised legal system and code. Depending as much on individual whim as any democratic pressure; an individual commissioner may well allow the EDL to march (and may even be politically sympathetic to them) in one area while others will ‘sort them out’ and some (probably an awful lot) will spend more time ‘sorting out’ the left.
We have to theoretically acknowledge that sometimes elective democracy is not always the most consistently democratic solution because it enshrines the dominance of the majority without providing adequate protection for the rights of minorities. So it is that certain communities under these commissioners will find themselves marginalised, alienated and possibly persecuted even more because they will never be able to achieve sufficient electoral weight of numbers to elect a commissioner of their choosing. Police Authorities as they currently exist are at least theoretically more balanced because they are made up of different components.
So, the solution is not to directly elect commissioners but in actual fact to call for directly elected police authorities. This would solve the minority protection problem by giving minorities a clear voice (it could be proportionally elected) in how policing was held to account. Finally, and most importantly, it would also remove the police from their part in the state apparatus and empower communities in a way this scheme for electing commissioners simply wont.