Tag Archives: Police & Crime

A Police Commissioner for Derbyshire

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.
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The election of Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

 

Few would argue that the actions of the police have an enormous impact on Derbyshire residents. Their role is to uphold laws agreed by Parliament on behalf of the community. To do this they are provided by a budget provided by the tax payer, partly from central government and partly from a proportion of Council tax paid directly to the Police Authority. In reflection of this budgeting arrangement, local councils are represented by elected Councillors on the Police Committees and the Home Secretary, nominally with Parliaments consent, can set a strategic framework for national policing. In the current financial climate, resources are scarce and the Coalition Government is forcing the Derbyshire Police Authority to cut 170 jobs to save £22m.

Difficult decisions will have to be made, the police can not do everything that the community might wish them to do with the budget provided. What will be cut? Funds for crime prevention? Funds for partnerships with youth agencies to help young offenders change their behaviour? How does the enforcements of traffic speeding compare with drug enforcement? Is enough attention given to pursuing corporate fraud? The list is endless.

Under a proposal brought forward by the Conservative Party and enacted by the Coalition Government, the way the police are managed is about to change. All Police Areas outside London will be voting on Thursday for a new position of Police and Crime Commissioner, an idea imported for the USA. Although operational decision will remain the prerogative of the Chief Constable the management decisions and budgeting allocations will lie with the new PCC, who will also hire and fire the Chief Constable.

The Green Party opposed the establishment of the PCC, fearing that the holder of this post, who in many cases will have been sponsored by a political party, will be more susceptible to the corporate lobbying of vested interest groups and to the populist agenda of the tabloid press than the real priorities of the people of Derbyshire. These fears have already been given substance here in the East Midlands. The Sunday Telegraph, hardly a conspiracy theory newspaper has disclosed how Mervyn Barrett, one of the “independent” candidates in Lincolnshire has flooded the county with DVDs and leaflets in a £100,000+ election campaign “secretly backed by American neo-conservative lobbyists and companies pushing for police privatization” The fact that he thinks G4S, who already run most of Lincolnshire back-room operations, to be a “well run” company, is particularly alarming.

[see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9623068/The-secret-US-lobbyists-behind-Police-and-Crime-Commissioner-election.html# ]

To stand in this ‘democratic’ election, a candidate needs to put down a depot of £5000, and would need to spend at least as much on publicity in order to be noticed among the slick gloss of the big money candidates like Mr Barrett. The Government has refused to fund a mailing to the electors to inform them about who is standing. By putting high finical hurdles in place for participation in these elections the coalition government have ensured that only those with considerable financial means, or support from business are able to participate and that is not democratic. When the former Police Chief Ian Blair is so concerned he tells the public not to vote you know there’s something amiss.

The Green Party will not be participating in this sham election and we advise our supporters to follow Ian Blair’s advice and not to vote. We remain committed to proper accountability and control of the police, but that can best be achieved through directly elected police boards that can properly reflect the range of interests and priorities within the County. It will not be achieved by the imposition of a police commissioner who the public do not understand, want or can afford to pay for.

Duncan Kerr & Mike Shipley

The election of Derbyshire's Police and Crime Commissioner.

 

Few would argue that the actions of the police have an enormous impact on Derbyshire residents. Their role is to uphold laws agreed by Parliament on behalf of the community. To do this they are provided by a budget provided by the tax payer, partly from central government and partly from a proportion of Council tax paid directly to the Police Authority. In reflection of this budgeting arrangement, local councils are represented by elected Councillors on the Police Committees and the Home Secretary, nominally with Parliaments consent, can set a strategic framework for national policing. In the current financial climate, resources are scarce and the Coalition Government is forcing the Derbyshire Police Authority to cut 170 jobs to save £22m.

Difficult decisions will have to be made, the police can not do everything that the community might wish them to do with the budget provided. What will be cut? Funds for crime prevention? Funds for partnerships with youth agencies to help young offenders change their behaviour? How does the enforcements of traffic speeding compare with drug enforcement? Is enough attention given to pursuing corporate fraud? The list is endless.

Under a proposal brought forward by the Conservative Party and enacted by the Coalition Government, the way the police are managed is about to change. All Police Areas outside London will be voting on Thursday for a new position of Police and Crime Commissioner, an idea imported for the USA. Although operational decision will remain the prerogative of the Chief Constable the management decisions and budgeting allocations will lie with the new PCC, who will also hire and fire the Chief Constable.

The Green Party opposed the establishment of the PCC, fearing that the holder of this post, who in many cases will have been sponsored by a political party, will be more susceptible to the corporate lobbying of vested interest groups and to the populist agenda of the tabloid press than the real priorities of the people of Derbyshire. These fears have already been given substance here in the East Midlands. The Sunday Telegraph, hardly a conspiracy theory newspaper has disclosed how Mervyn Barrett, one of the “independent” candidates in Lincolnshire has flooded the county with DVDs and leaflets in a £100,000+ election campaign “secretly backed by American neo-conservative lobbyists and companies pushing for police privatization” The fact that he thinks G4S, who already run most of Lincolnshire back-room operations, to be a “well run” company, is particularly alarming.

[see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9623068/The-secret-US-lobbyists-behind-Police-and-Crime-Commissioner-election.html# ]

To stand in this ‘democratic’ election, a candidate needs to put down a depot of £5000, and would need to spend at least as much on publicity in order to be noticed among the slick gloss of the big money candidates like Mr Barrett. The Government has refused to fund a mailing to the electors to inform them about who is standing. By putting high finical hurdles in place for participation in these elections the coalition government have ensured that only those with considerable financial means, or support from business are able to participate and that is not democratic. When the former Police Chief Ian Blair is so concerned he tells the public not to vote you know there’s something amiss.

The Green Party will not be participating in this sham election and we advise our supporters to follow Ian Blair’s advice and not to vote. We remain committed to proper accountability and control of the police, but that can best be achieved through directly elected police boards that can properly reflect the range of interests and priorities within the County. It will not be achieved by the imposition of a police commissioner who the public do not understand, want or can afford to pay for.

Duncan Kerr & Mike Shipley