.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Running the Police

Today's Observer reports on the views of the Electoral Reform Society that directly elected Police Authorities will fall under the control of the Tories in vast swathes of the country. Elsewhere there are concerns that the BNP will win seats on these authorities.

The possible outcome of an election should not be a consideration as to whether to have it or not. That is called gerrymandering. However, one does have to question whether directly elected Police Authorities will make any difference to the way that our communities are policed or even to how the constabularly is run.

The Home Secretary will doubtless wish to reserve for herself the power to sack Chief Constables whilst operational decisions will remain with senior management in the Police force and out of reach of the politicians. That is how it should be.

In fact I cannot see how the directly elected Police Authority members role will be any different to that of the present membership of such bodies. As now they will largely be concerned with budgetary control and community liaison, as well as providing a political guide to the Chief Constable on key decisions.

For some reason, the Liberal Democrats voted to support this move at its September conference. In my view they were wrong to do so. There are already directly elected members on Police Authorities, they are called Councillors. These Councillors provide a democratic input but they also offer an important link with the local Councils they serve on and other bodies. In other words there is a cross fertilisation of representation that adds value to their role and to the Police Authority. That link will be lost with direct elections.

My view is that the best way to democratise police authorities is to remove the appointed members and increase slightly the number of Councillors on them so as to get a better cross-section of community and political opinion. I believe that these views also have support within the Welsh Assembly Government.

It is my intention to bring a motion to the Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference along these lines, distancing ourselves from the Federal Party's policy.
Peter, Would you apply the same principle of extending local democracy to the National Park Authorities and Local Health Boards, if we have any left?
"...In my view they were wrong to do so. There are already directly elected members on Police Authorities, they are called Councillors. These Councillors provide a democratic input but they also offer an important link with the local Councils they serve on and other bodies..."

There does seem to be some form of proportionality with the current system of Police Authority membership being made up of different political groupings according to the number of Councillors present.

I do have to add a "however"; councillors aren't elected on the proportion of their votes, there are 50% labour Councillors in Bridgend, with just 42% of the vote.

As regards "other" bodies that councillors sit on are these chosen on political grounds? I've previously asked under FoI for the "reasons" why the membership of the Community Health Council was chosen; reply from WAG was along the lines that they weren't going to divulge such information under the Data Protection Act since it concerned individuals.

But we can actually find out the membership of CHC unlike the Bench at Bridgend.

G. Lewis
Bridgend Lib Dems
David, there are strong arguments for the government nominees on National Parks to be directly elected or for the National Park Authorities to be abolished altogether, for the National Parks themselves to become an AONB and for the local Councils to run planning etc there. Take your pick.

Personally, I believe that Primary Health Care commissioning should belong with Local Council Social Service departments thus providing political accountability and better joint working, including joint budgets.

Gary, naturally I believe that Councillors should be elected by STV so as to make them more representative
I agree with Peter Black here. However, the South Wales Police Chief Constable Barbara Wilding should be more accountable. I know the Police generally do a great job under difficult circumstances and are tremendously overstretched, but I challenge anyone in South Wales to try to speak by phone to the Chief Constable Barbara Wilding's Office Staff (not her hereslf). The Police switchboard are under her orders to refuse to connect you to anyone in the Chief Constable's Office. I challenge anyone to write to Chief Constable Barbara Wilding and get a reply. Your correspondence will be ignored. Who does this Chief Constable Barbara Wilding think she is? Queen Elizabeth is more approachable and accountable at Buckingham Palace than Barbara Wilding is at South Wales Police.
I can't help thinking, that for all its perceived unfairness, 'First Past the Post' does have advantages..
First Past the Post does have it's advantages; if viewed from a Labour Prospective, it helps keep their Councillors in Power!
I would assume that the federal party supports the proposal because it would increase public participation in policing. That I would think is a good thing. I think using arguments about the BNP and the Tories are just strawmen or worse scare tactics to prevent the more involvement from the public. I find such arguments about the BNP and the Tories as scare tactics. . I would have thought that that elections would be non partisan?

Whatever happened to the good old Liberal concept of “trust the people”. Your view suggests that you can’t. I am curious is this just your view in the Welsh party, or does Kirsty Williams agree with you
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?