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Cheers - AE

Friday, 3 December 2010

Police dummy spit in 3... 2...

Actually the dummy spitting over the plan for elected local police commissioners has been going on for a while, and as Douglas Carswell says he's been getting grief about it for longer than most since he's been advocating the idea in the face of determined opposition from The Plod for years. Happily for Carswell and unhappily for the ACPO PLC Ltd (FOIA-GFY)* it's gone from being an idea to a proposal, to a plan with a date on it.
Directly-elected Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are the boldest reform of policing since the 1960s. In May 2012 there will be 41 new political beasts in England and Wales with large, direct mandates. They look set to transform policing and public debate about crime.


The new Commissioners will replace weak and invisible police authorities who, despite costing £65m a year and spending £25m in the last 3 years alone on expenses and allowances, have failed to hold chief constables to account. As a result, police chiefs have become too powerful, too detached and too risk-averse – with failure to tackle crime often just excused.
Small wonder the Bosses in Blue and some of their fellow travellers are less than thrilled with the idea.

An ACPO spokesperson

Rob Garnham, chairman of the Association of Police Authorities and a Conservative councillor, said it was the "wrong policy at the wrong time".
The first of the proposed commissioners are expected to be in place by May 2012, with the power to hire and fire chief constables.
Ministers say the planned commissioners, similar to the US system, will improve the local accountability of police forces and their chief constables.
But many chief constables are concerned elected officials will interfere in day-to-day policing, making it difficult for them to balance local duties with their national responsibilities.
Mr Garnham said: "At a time of budget cuts and public concern, this Bill is the wrong response to people's priorities. The public understand the need to tackle the deficit. They also want to be kept safe.
"But where's the evidence that the public want more elections, or more politicians? Where's the evidence that bringing in police commissioners will cut crime?"
Where's the evidence that it won't cut crime? It might not work but there are logical reasons to think that it should. An individual PCC might not be much good but where one proves ineffective it should be expected that he'll be replaced for a better choice come election time. In theory this democratic process should create an almost Darwinian environment where hopeless PCCs cannot hold their job long term while those that deliver will win re-election and carry on doing what they'd been doing. As for the concern about elected officials interfering with the day to da...
... shadow home secretary Ed Balls said: "This goes against a 150-year tradition of keeping politics out of policing."
Oh, fuck me. Trust fucking Ed Bollocks to stick his beak in. Look, Blinky, you're a fine one to talk about keeping politics out of policing. Whose government gave the police S44 and encouraged the harassing of innocent photographers? Oh yeah, it was your mob, wasn't it?
"It raises the very real prospect of a politician telling a chief constable how to do their job."
Which somehow doesn't apply to Jack Straw, David Blunkett, Charles Clarke, John Reid, Jacqboot Smith and Alan Johnson in their respective terms as Labour Home Secretaries? Oh, of course. They weren't telling a chief constable what to do, they were telling all of them. Christ, Blinky, how can policing not be politicised when the government of the day, a political party, is in the driving seat when it comes to making and scrapping laws and saying which ones it wants to focus on. If you didn't work that out while you were in government you're a poor choice for Shadow Home Sec. Not only that but look how the Police Authorities the Chief Constables answer to now are appointed.
Most police authorities have 17 members:
  • Nine local councillors appointed by the local council
  • Eight independent members selected following local advertisements, at least one of whom must be a magistrate
It is up to councils to decide which councillors to appoint to the police authority, but they must do so within certain rules. The most important of these is political balance, which means that the political balance of the councillors appointed to the police authority must reflect the political balance of the councils in the area of the police authority.


Elected mayors for upper tier councils can automatically be appointed members of police authorities if they and their councils wish, and the political balance calculation for other councillor members will then need to take the political party of the mayor into account.
See, Ed? Already politicised both on a national and local level. Now why don't you be a good cunt and fuck off?

Now I admit I do have a few doubts along these lines because as with all democratic processes there exists the slim but real chance of some demagogic fucknuts being elected on a platform of lunatic authoritarianism, though on the plus side that style of policing might feel comfortably familiar in some parts of the UK. However, they've given this some thought and made an effort to minimise this possibility.
Despite the scaremongering of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the risk of extremists winning election is wildly overstated. Political parties will run candidates and successful PCCs will have mandates from up to several million electors each. The preferential voting system will make the election of extremists highly implausible, as candidates will need support from all sections of very large geographic areas.
Not perfect but in a democracy what is? Frankly my only real gripe is that this might be putting the cart before the horse a bit. The Cobbleition have inherited a set of law books with a vast number of victimless crimes on, more than a few of which are new ones invented by Ed Bollocks' team. If the public feel that there's a bit too much police attention on the wrong things then removing bullshit victimless crimes should free up police resources to deal with ones with a clear and genuine victim who has suffered measurable and tangible harm. The PCCs might be a way to achieve this as well, but there are likely to be some elected on a platform of zero tolerance of pot smokers and checking behind every tree to see if it's hiding a nonce. My personal feeling is that that wouldn't be a vast improvement over Home Orifice policies that encourage whole police forces to concentrate on low hanging fruit and headline crimes while doing little more, sometimes nothing more, than giving out a crime number for a vast range of other offences. On the other hand there are some intriguing possibilities from the libertarian point of view.

Imagine that in one area some foam mouthed authoritarian nutter was elected and begun a regime of zero tolerance for just about everything the government said wasn't quite right with the world, because that's more or less what the majority there want. In a neighbouring area the voters elected someone who was obsessed with the most crude clear up rate, again because the locals were after a busy police force and hoped that effectiveness would follow automatically. In a third area the electorate voted in someone who promised to go easy on the trivial offences but wouldn't ignore someone with a bit of puff or a group of hookers who set up a new knocking shop. And in a fourth are they elected a PCC determined to concentrate on crimes against the person and property to the point of quietly turning a blind eye to activities that weren't legal but don't actually harm anyone else. What might happen then? Would the über-statists of all four areas be attracted to the first one and begin to move in as more liberty loving types there move out and head for the last one? Would the ones who don't want to be hassled by police for trivial motoring offences but support laws that say how individuals use their own bodies be similarly attracted to the third area, and so on? It could be a two way street where not only would certain towns or areas demand a certain kind of Commissioner but that certain kinds of Commissioners would make their areas more attractive to certain types of individuals.

And if that happened might things go even further? Might the laws be adjusted and tweaked, perhaps some repealed here and new ones introduced there according to what kind of legal environment the locals, whether established or recently arrived from other areas, are asking and voting for? Would that expand to other areas of life such as local taxes and services too? It's probably a bloody slim chance, I know, but just maybe it could lead to the kind of society in which a few cities or counties that were basically libertarian could appear. If the whole remainder of the country was solidly statist and populated entirely by people happy to be told what to do and taxed heavily for the privilege that'd be just fine - the only real issue a libertarian should have with a statist is the statist's insistence that everyone else should be one too. If there was just one place libertarians could go and live free lives what everyone else does would be their choice, and there's just the slightest chance it could all begin with a little more local choice over law enforcement.

Of course what we'll probably see is a lot of something like this.


* Freedom Of Infomation Act? Go Fuck Yourselves.
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