If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Elected Police Chiefs

Some good news at last, and thanks to good old Theresa May. Britain, apparently, is to have elected Police Commissioners. I am quite excited about this. Imagine what changes we could make if we could elect someone of our own way of thinking to direct police policy in our area.

Burglaries? Important.
Criminal assaults? Important.
Vandalism and loutish behaviour? Important.
People offended by a chance remark from a total stranger? Get to the back of the queue.

The usual idiots have been on the airwaves to pull the idea to pieces. One of the most humorous was Ed Balls, who said:
This goes against a 150-year tradition of keeping politics out of policing. It raises the very real prospect of a politician telling a chief constable how to do their job.
Ed, let me tell you a secret. Policing has always been political. Politics is all about how we choose to organise our society, and policing has always been part of that. In the Victorian era, the police were pretty much the servants of the ruling class, employed to keep the workers and poor on their best behaviour. Under New Labour, however, the Police became more aligned with the governing party than ever before. Remember how they lobbied for government policy over the detention without trial issue? Remember how ACPO statements used to uncannily reflect Labour thinking? Ed, to suggest that Labour have disinterestedly kept politics out of policing shows some fucking nerve.

And why shouldn't an elected politician tell the police how to do their job? No-one is suggesting (apart from the Left, for which it is a useful straw man) that Police Commissioners should involve themselves in day-to-day operational decisions. But to have someone who represents the wishes of the people directing overall policing priorities - well, give me one reason why that isn't a good idea? Perhaps the Left believes people aren't clever enough to understand the issues, and that those who know better should decide things for them?

And don't tell me that the Police Authorities (composed of local councillors and various appointees) already reflect the will of the local people. That is the remote and 'we-know-best' system that has got us to where we are today. Can you name the head of your local Police Authority? When and where they meet? Can you say how you communicate your priorities and needs to them, and what they do with that information? No, neither can I.

The BBC's coverage of this story has been - I was going to say 'a revelation', but that's not true. It's been entirely typical. I heard the story on the radio news this afternoon, several times, and each time the introductory line was something like "Labour say Tory plans for elected Police Chiefs are dangerous". You know, spinning the story before the story is fully reported. Even the headline to the accompanying BBC News article is a spin:
New police commissioners 'could cost more than £136m'
The cost of introducing police and crime commissioners could reach more than £136m over 10 years, government documents show.
Yep, standard procedure - get the negatives out fast, before people have even read the story.
Why the Government don't bring the state-funded propaganda arm of the Labour Party to heel I do not know.

But elected Police Commissioners? Yes, please. Soon as.

Gratuitous picture of Home Secretary included because I think she is a bit of a babe.


  1. The fact that the police themselves seem to fear elected police chiefs accountable to the public like Dracula fearing a crucifix makes me think more and more what a good idea this must be!

  2. What Julia Said. It's about time the police had a bit of fear of accountability. Under Labour their entire remit has change for the worse.

    Good post until you called Theresa May a babe and I spat my coffee out. You have issues :-/

  3. No issues, just appreciate a faaaahn-lookin wommen when Ah sees one :)

    Julia, that's a good point, and one I left out of the original post. You have to ask *why* the police don't like the idea of understanding the priorities of the people they serve. Why, it's because it would conflict with *their* priorities, in my view. The police, at the top level, are infected with Righteous, CP types who need taking out and re-educating, forcibly if necessary. The majority of actual coppers, I would think, would be OK with the proposals.

  4. Isn't it still the case that the Met Police Commissioner is directly accountable to the Home Secretary anyway? So that's a fair chunk of national responsibilities which do, in fact, have some degree of political input anyway. ACPO, whilst not directly answerable, are, of course, part-funded by the Home Office. Still, I'm sure that's had no bearing on their policies at all.

    I think it's an interesting idea, and one to be broadly welcomed, not least because Labour hate the idea. I just hope it doesn't introduce a new layer of professional politicians created just to fill commissioner roles, and that the desired acountability is more than just an opportunity to vote every four years. Power of recall, perhaps?

    Um...I do think Theresa May's a bit of a babe, but probably shouldn't say which bit...!

  5. They say that politics is show business for ugly people, and a brief look around Parliament confirms this. Two words - Lembit Opik.

    In the context of Parliament, Theresa May is a stunner. You don't have to agree, but you can't deny that in the company of Harman, Smith and Blears, she's presentable.

    And I bet she knows a thing or two. It's the quiet ones ...

  6. Now that is a fair point - in that field, I have to agree.

    And, of course, those shoes are a hint that she might be a bit of a goer...

  7. Exactly. Like a posh and aloof aristocrat's wife that you suddenly notive is wearing a gold ankle-chain. Intriguing.


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