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No need for change to commissioners
4:03pm Wednesday 22nd August 2012 in Salisbury Letters
THE police are trusted more than politicians.
So, in a seemingly desperate attempt to avoid stalemate, the Government has launched a dedicated website to sell the idea of Police and Crime Commissioners to an unsuspecting electorate who, having firmly rejected town mayors, no one dares ask whether they would prefer yet another expensive tier of police supervision.
Surely no one can deny that our police rate second to none in their record of public service. Of course there are occasional lapses and there must be change, but nothing that merits breaking the established tradition that party politics are excluded from operational policing.
To appoint Police and Crime Commissioners by public election on party tickets threatens the very foundation of the British system; prompting a constitutional change not even tested by election manifesto.
Nothing has happened to commend such fundamental change.
Like any other institution the police must face ever-changing circumstances and be accountable.
Hitherto this has meant accountable locally through police authorities, nationally through HM inspectors of constabulary and ultimately to the law itself. No case has been made for yet another level of political accountability.
The Government is about to get it wrong again and with no public mandate. While there is probably a case for appointing chief constables and HM inspectors by open competition, as there is a case to restore the status of police authorities, that should not be at the whims of party political elections, particularly on a minority turnout.
I make no judgment on any candidate as an individual but deplore that he or she, unlike any other public official, will be elected more by random opportunism than by executive procedure.
FRANK LOCKYER, Former Chief Superintendent, Divisional Commander South Wiltshire 1969-1985, Salisbury