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.


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12 responses to “Elect Police Authorities, not Commissioners….”

  1. John Reid says :

    There was alot of good points in this upto the idea that elected Commisioners would have the power to decide whether “political” “marches” could take place, and that these political marches were deifned in terms of left/right, are the EDL in opposing islamic fascism’s homopoibc anti semetic anti jewish remarks right wing, could oppositon to IRaq,fox hunting fuel protests ,be considered left wing, vairous tories were agaisnt these things, The Edl of course weren’t allowed to march they had a static protest in a certain area,
    I’m not sure what you mean by state apperatus,If this is inplying that previous governemtns have used the police to break protests agasint them, a police authority wouldn’t have the power to say that the polce can only view a protest not stop police form unblocking roads where those who the protesters are agaisnt can’t get thorugh to where they want to go, When Ken was mayor he never stopped the kettling in 2001 or 2004


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :


    The only good point too it is to make the police feel the rough edge of democratic accountability. Im not sure what to do about the EDL; I dont believe in calling on the state to crackdown on them. Probably the best way is to mobilise the community in counter demonstrations. Im meaning exactly what Ed Balls today and what most people realise it means; that the police are being seen (because they are) increasingly as an arm of the government not the neutral defenders of law


  3. John Reid says :

    The police arrested Damian Green ,when Jacqui smith exagerated the inportance of the leaked immigration letters that he got his researcher at the home office to get, admittadly it was illegal to leak this, even though the information was agaisnt national secuirty, Let alone Jonathon aitken,Jeffrey Archer, Neil HAmilton ,1 or 2 Tories having thier expences put to the CPS, the Police have looked into Tories aswell as stopping criminal damage or assault in the Protests,


  4. darrellgoodliffe says :


    They have but that doesn’t change the points im making. You will note at the time you mention the government was a *Labour* government so all you are doing is proving my point…especially in the case of the leaks…not arguing against it….


  5. John Reid says :

    Eh, Neil hamilton archer and Aitken happened in the dying days of the last tory one, also Labour were investigated ,Peter Watt, 4 expences claims. Peter hains election campaign, cash for peereages


  6. darrellgoodliffe says :


    I was referring to the leaks investigation where you can clearly see how the police *did* act as an arm of the government….they don’t always, I will give you that but more often than not they do….


  7. John Reid says :

    I think it was more the fact that Jacqui smith exagerated the inportance of the leaks that the police got involved,a fterall they didn’t prosecute Green or his assisatant,but when theat bloke leaked the blegrano was sailing away formthe Falklands and thatcher lied about it, they prosecuted him, thankfully he was cleared


  8. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Maybe but they still appeared to be swayed by it….im not saying the relationship is as linear as I am perhaps making out here but there definitely is a clear link……yes it is good he was….


  9. John says :

    Didn’t Jack straw get booed off stage at the 2001 Police Federation confrence, didn’t D Blunkett give a speech the next year to absolute stoney silence and have to apologise to the police twice, Hazel blears as police minister was hecked at hte 2003 Association of Chief police offiers the next year the Police said to her ‘she was patronising them to death” to Which D Blunkett criticised the police chiefs, only for Blunkett to resign in diegrace weeks later, Of course the Govnermnet refused to honour arbitration and give the polcei the pay deal that they had agreed on ,similar at the diamond jubilee ,the Poiice were entitled to a long service medal to which the government refused to give it to them either


  10. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Your really missing the point. When I say there is no direct link I mean that but, lets put this another way, are you seriously saying there is no connection at all between the government (the people who make laws) and the people who enforce them (the police)….of course, its a complicated issue and not one I would propose to explore fully here but there is a link and yes, is it not logical to assume that sometimes the latter are used to protect the vested interest of the former. None of anything you say changes that!


  11. John Reid says :

    someitmes, fair enobugh but Unions pay labour, so lab ov’scanput though ther poicies, similar ,whn Labour was trying to ut do the tories on crime ,in their first term, they would’nt evenn consider reclassifying Cannabis ,yet Brian PAddick head of Brixton police, decided to be above the lawand broughtn his own policy of not arresting people caught with cannbis, even though tah wasn’t the law at that time, so the police don’t always do what the government tell them to do.


  12. darrellgoodliffe says :


    In some ways, maybe. Thats because as Bob A told us the Daily Mail hadnt told them what to think yet :). No they dont but then again, Labour rarely does what the unions tell it to do…thats not to deny the link…


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