Commissioners debate - Information is oozing out

Background information about the oddly-styled Police and Crime Commissioners is now oozing out – but how are we supposed to relate to them if they are tasked with commissioning both the police and crime?

As they are not “required to have previous experience in being involved in the running of a police force”, do they have to have previous experience in the running of crime?

As far as I can establish from what, so far, has come through my letterbox, what I’ve heard on the radio and what I’ve read in the ‘Middy’, the existing “Police Authorities…groups of councillors and independent members of the public” will be replaced by a Commissioner who will be “scrutinised by a Police and Crime Panel (both sides of the law again!) involving local councillors and members of the public”. Plus ça change!

The ultimate control of the police, if the concept of ‘scrutiny’ has any genuine strength, will lie not with the newly-created post but with the Police and Crime Panel, and I trust that their ‘scrutiny’ will include the power to remove an ineffective Commissioner, rather than leave us stuck with him or her for four years.

It seems that we are being asked to vote for the imposition of an expensive individual (who, in addition to an annual salary of some £85,000-plus on costs for pension, etc., will need an office and administrative back-up) between Police and Crime Panel and the public, rather than between the police force and the public.

I keep being told how successful a Commissioner has been in reducing crime in New York – but, thank God, this isn’t New York. We don’t have New York’s crime rates, and that is largely due to the effectiveness of the existing policing arrangements.

The candidates for the Commissioner jobs are mainly backed by political parties (I have to resist the use of the words ‘party hacks’) who will decide not ‘the issues that matter to you’ but the issues that will be seen as most fruitful in eventually increasing the votes for their party bosses.

Brian High,

Fox Hill Village,

Haywards Heath