Thursday, 2 September 2010

50 new police officers or an elected Police Chief - you decide (actually, you can't)

I am staggered to read a piece on This is Cornwall about the cost of the election of the new Police Chief. It is said that this process will cost around £1.9 million in Devon and Cornwall - more than the total cost of the current Police Authority and equivalent to what it costs to put 50 Police Constables on our streets.

The Conservative plans are for the elections to take place in 2012 - at a time when the only other elections in Devon or Cornwall are for councillors in Plymouth and Exeter. That means that the total cost everywhere else will be borne by the Police budget and will be around £1.9 million.

This is just another reason why directly elected Police Chiefs should not be going ahead. The current system - a mix of elected councillors, magistrates and independent experts - provides low key but effective oversight of local Police and their budgets.

I fear that the new system will result in high profile 'crusaders' promising to stamp out particular types of crime - to the exclusion of all others - with little effect.

The law is quite clear that operational control rests with the professional officers from the Chief Constable downwards. But I am sure that newly elected chiefs will try to circumvent that process leading to confusion and the potential for corruption.

All in all, this promises to be a very expensive and not very effective change.

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