Fringe Box



Letter: Does Anyone Really Understand the Politics of the Police Commissioner Election?

Published on: 18 Mar, 2024
Updated on: 18 Mar, 2024

From: David Roberts

In response to: Surrey Residents’ Increasing Burden of Police Funding Is a Stealth Tax

Does anyone really understand the politics of all this?

To me, it has always seemed a bad idea to elect Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) directly, if only because it risks leading to politicised, populist, “tabloid” policing, dominated by whatever temporary moral panic the public happens to be in. Usually, that is about trivial anti-social behaviour and the lack of “bobbies on the beat”, which are the last things we need to worry about.

In broadly peaceful, leafy Surrey, I would suggest that the only serious, endemic crime is online fraud and money laundering (mainly through our dysfunctional property market) – things which are scarcely even monitored and quantified, let alone dealt with, by Surrey Police.

From this perspective, Surrey is the UK’s no.1 crime hotspot after London. But it’s so much easier to bang up a few local yobs than catch serious international crooks.

Like so many bad ideas, directly elected PCCs were inspired by the example of the US with which successive Tory governments have been besotted.

As Alex Coley points out, the results there are hardly encouraging. But would reverting to local committee oversight of chief constables be any better? Who has even heard of the “Surrey Police and Crime Panel” or knows what it does?

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