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Saturday, October 04, 2003

This town ain't big enough for the both of us

Reports in the paper this morning that the Conservatives are now proposing to break up the Police force into 139 constituent units, each headed by a directly elected Sherriff. What is this obsession with leadership by a lone figurehead? The Tories were opposed to directly elected mayors, so why do they want to respond to the lack of interest in the political system by creating more posts for election when there are already proposals for bodies that will do the job for them? All the signs are that the 139 areas will be a fragmentation too far. It makes more sense to devolve powers over the Police to directly elected Regional and National Assemblies or Parliaments who have other powers, such as health, education, transport, fire etc, that they can link in with their responsibilities for crime and disorder to get a broad cross-cutting oversight and delivery of vital services. The strategic approach that these bodies will be able to take together with the improved accountability will make the modern Police force far more sensitive to the needs of our society. In the meantime speculation will be rife as to who may stand for such posts. I nominate Iain Duncan Smith for Deputy Dawg.

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