Fringe Box



Letter: Will Any Police Commissioner Be Able To Be Effective?

Published on: 4 Nov, 2012
Updated on: 4 Nov, 2012

From Peter Webb

STAG (Surrey Tax Action Group)

I have not decided to vote for a police commissioner yet, and will certainly not support any party political candidate. I have  had dealings with Peter Williams the outgoing Chairman of the Surrey Police Authority, and independent candidate.

Over recent years in that capacity he has done  more than anybody in any equivalent position to brief us personally by letter and on one occasion to hear my ideas on whether to appeal the government cap on the precept for council tax. That experience, and his in his SPA role together with his strong presence,  tells me that he looks  the best of the bunch for Commissioner. His watchword is ‘police not politics’.

But I am sceptical about the value and effectiveness of such a person.  It seems that behind the ‘small print’ defining the Commissioner’s role there are going to be many areas where the remit will be limited because of other agencies, quangos etc., and superior top-down pressures. This is a general present-day problem for all of government locally. Failed ‘big’ government is bust. Reform should be the first priority, before adding more bureaucracy.

I particularly want to know what “fully accountable” means in practice. We have never been presented with un-spun evidence to inform our judgement when voting. Public bodies have avoided giving residents an Annual Report setting out in narrative form year by year, the salient facts about completed actions and developments, surrounding conditions, performance, stewardship and intentions etc , in other words evidence on which to approve the report and vote for continuation, or otherwise,  in office.

Perhaps Peter Williams will confirm publicly that he will do this.

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Responses to Letter: Will Any Police Commissioner Be Able To Be Effective?

  1. Keith Chesterton Reply

    November 6, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Police Commissioners are a bad idea. Decisions on strategy and accountability are best done by a group of people who can share ideas and throw out the bad ones rather than by a single person. This is why every business and charity is run by a Board or Committee with a Chief Executive. The Chief Constable should be accountable to such a group.

    But we are stuck with this badly organised election, in November, all on its own. No “free post”, so most households have received no information and there has been almost non existent publicity from the Government whose idea it was.

    Most people say they are not going to vote but there are one or two scary candidates out there and if we don’t vote, one of them might get in. If you want another reason to vote, the last Police Authority was going into privatisation of important bits of the police service to hand them to private companies like G4S (who hit the headlines in the run up to the Olympics). If you want to stop this, look at the one candidate against privatisation – Robert Evans.

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