John Youatt, the convenor of the Derbyshire Dales region interviewed Carole Brister, an independent member of the Derbyshire police authority (DPA) – and chair of its Citizens’ Focus and Partnerships committee.
Carole served the DPA for nearly 10 years. She found the position extremely interesting and worked hard to represent the views of her community. She finds it disappointing that a good system has been abolished in favour of a party political system. However, Carole states: ‘The process is underway, whether we like it or not, and I urge people to turn out and vote for their candidate. This way at least the elected Commissioner will have a mandate’
The DPA consisted of 17 people:- 9 elected councillors appointed by the county and city councils to reflect the councils’ political make-up; and 8 independents. There was thus a stronger overall democratic and citizens’ element, with better balance and continuity, than the new system. In one case (not Derbyshire), thousands of £s is being spent by a rich right wing candidate, dedicated to cuts and outsourcing, or privatisation. He might prove to be the model for any Tory or UKIP commissioners.
Very few strong independent “great and good” citizens have come forward (as Cameron had hoped). It seems that, with only days to go, the turn out, with no government funded leaflets, and on a winter’s day, will be poor. In most cases, only political parties have the cash and organisation to put up candidates. The Tories’ purpose that they can dominate shire police forces, might be achieved: their mantra that it will be ‘more democratic’ will almost certainly fail. Labour, likely to win the next general election in 2015 or before, is standing in Derbyshire and elsewhere, but is opposed to the principle and might well abandon the practice in due course.
John says, “If there was anything wrong with the current authority, it could have been mended by direct elections, eg of the chair and a few members, coincident with the county elections. I don’t understand how a party-funded commissioner can swear an oath of impartiality. It’s fatally flawed”
Green party members have the usual options – not to vote: or to write ‘not this system’ or similar; or to read the candidate manifestos and vote for the only experienced candidate, closest in beliefs to the Green Party.
All the candidates are on the website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-19506238 Here you can look for the candidate with the best experience and the best manifesto for you.
Some basic facts.
- Derbyshire constabulary’s recent budget is £180m of which £1m is spent on the Police Authority
- The 17 members were paid a basic fee of £9k, with a support staff of a CEO and 9 officers
- The DPA had a clear structure with 4 main committees, one of which was dedicated to community focus. It had statutory powers
- Recent cuts have been well managed. The Derbyshire Police are in good shape all round. It is actually recruiting at the moment
- The present Gov’t, or at least the conservative element, is seeking cuts of 20%
- The Commissioner will be paid £75k and a deputy could be paid £45k. He will have sweeping powers over the budget and the Chief Constable
- The officers will be transferred on current terms for at least 2 years
- There will be a panel to scrutinise the work of the Commissioner consisting of 10 Councillors and two independents with no power
- Some Tories favour the USA model in which party policies are delivered vigorously by locally elected party members
- Senior police officers have been muzzled
- The constabulary’s assets of buildings, equipment and vehicles worth hundreds of millions of £s will be at the disposal of the Commissioner
- The count is on Friday morning at Alfreton leisure centre. The result is expected in the afternoon.