Despite costing £100 million to implement, David Cameron is determined to go ahead with his plan to have elected police commissioners. Why? Because he believes it will make police forces, and chief constables directly accountable to the public. Really? Chief Constables already answer to their local police authority. Police authorities are made up of a mixture of selected and appointed members from all political persuasions. What’s wrong with the current system? How more accountable could a chief constable be?
Isn’t the great danger of having elected police commissioners that that we politicise the police? Won’t we get populist law enforcement? Is this really a sensible way to go? Why are we modelling our policing on a broken and discredited American system? It makes little sense.
There is no question that the way police forces are organised by county is both highly inefficient and expensive. Isn’t it about time they were organised by region? Having 39 police fiefdoms in England all with their separate authorities, budgets and organisations is a daft way to organise policing in the 21st century. In 2006 Charles Clark tried to reduce the number to 24, but failed. Isn’t it time to try again rather than complicating the issue by adding a political dimension?