TheOpinionSite.org believes that the election of political party candidates as new Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will result in politically driven policies within police forces. Commissioners are likely to drive police policies along party lines with unpopular groups and individuals being targeted in order to gain political popularity and causing the Police Service to lose what little objectivity and credibility it has left.
Home Secretary Theresa May, policing minister Nick Herbert and Prime Minister David Cameron have made sure that any truly independent candidates, unless extremely wealthy, will not receive the same campaigning advantages as those put forward by political parties.
Candidates are allowed to spend up to £228,000 in the final stages of a campaign but few independent candidates will have such resources available to them.
The Conservative party in particular is reported to have put significant effort into promoting their own candidates as part of the Tory bid to re-establish itself as the ‘party of Law and Order’, backing candidates supporting a right-wing view of how police forces should operate.
The whole process opens the door to the further corruption of Britain’s already over-powerful police forces.
However, even with all the political manipulation of what is supposed to be a democratic and fair process, even the government itself has expressed worry that elector turnout may be very, very low with perhaps less than 15% of voters taking an interest.
When asked by TheOpinionSite.org, fewer than 10% of those questioned even knew that the post of PCC was being created and even less knew about the November elections. Only 3% said that they would vote.
When asked on the BBC’s Today Programme as to whether he would be satisfied with even a 15% turnout, the policing minister, Nick Herbert refused five times to answer the question, stating that the elections would give ‘ordinary’ people “more say over how they are policed.”
The election of PCCs is supposed to make the police more accountable to communities but in reality, they will instead become more accountable to political parties, none of which have the trust of the general public anyway.
However, the government knows full well that it is hard to claim that the police will have democratic legitimacy with only 15% of people bothering to vote. So where did such a stupid idea come from in the first place?
Unsurprisingly, the concept was imported from the United States, a country which successive British governments have mistakenly seen as being the model for Democracy in the Western world when in reality nothing could be further from the truth.
Only the very wealthy are ever elected to the US Senate or Congress where corruption is in any case rife and, should an example of the honesty of American democracy really be necessary, readers may choose to remind themselves as to how George W Bush fiddled the votes in Florida in order to become president.
Similarly, in the US only the very wealthy and politically supported ever become Mayors (who have authority over the police) or District Attorneys responsible for prosecutions.
As with their American counterparts, the UK’s new PCCs will have political debts to pay once they are in power and will mould local police policies to fit their own political agenda. Chief Constables will have little choice but to comply with what their political masters want.
Expect ‘knee-jerk’ reactions on a weekly basis. Every time a child goes missing or an old lady gets attacked by a burglar, expect those ‘known’ to the police to be targeted disproportionately.
Whilst the real criminal escapes, those on the various ‘registers’ and databases now in existence will be the subject of unnecessary and wasteful police attention as the local PCC carries out the instructions of his political masters and financial backers.
The police will be instructed to concentrate on issues - and people – that are likely to receive press and media attention. Meanwhile, less prominent but possibly equally important issues will be sidelined.
The emphasis will always be on issues that are important and potentially damaging to political parties and which could become influential factors in general and local elections.
TheOpinionSite.org is of the view that the most ridiculous aspect of the PCC elections is that the public have shown no interest in them at all. In its attempt to further democratise communities, the government is making a fool of itself with most people showing little or no interest in the November elections.
It is a fact that most British people have little interest in anything political – even though politics affects absolutely everything in their lives – and find elections boring and irrelevant, especially since all parties now promote pretty much the same policies and seem to be interested only in keeping the press and media at bay whilst at the same time guaranteeing their own continuing employment.
So far then, the only good thing to come from this exercise is that certain candidates have found themselves being forced to withdraw because they have a criminal record as a result of offences committed 40 or 50 years ago; TheOpinionSite.org welcomes these ‘respectable’ people to the real Britain where even the very slightest transgressions are never forgotten and where they are certainly never forgiven.
It may be worth reminding the present government and politicians in general that Democracy is defined as “a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives”, something that is impossible anyway in Britain where we are all ‘subjects’ of the Queen and where any Prime Minister can exercise the ‘Royal Prerogative’ and take us to war on behalf of America with not so much as even a debate in Parliament.
If going to war is not subject to democracy, it is unlikely that anyone is likely to take the election of PCCs seriously. The local Police Commissioner is only likely to be noticed by the public when it is too late – another common British trait – and when the political bias is at its highest.
With the very American devices of elected Mayors and elected Police and Crime Commissioners, one has to ask how long it will be before we are asked to elect local Prosecutors, all of which will be anxious to show how ‘tough’ they are by locking up as many people as they can for as long as possible.
We cannot now even rely on judges to be truly fair or objective. Sentencing ‘guidelines’, statutory sentences laid down by government, the eradication of judicial discretion pioneered by Tony Blair and continued by Cameron, all limit the fairness with which we are subject to the Law and additionally prevent judges from taking a stand against the unfair and unjust media driven policies of whichever government happens to be in power at the time.
Perhaps then, we should also elect our judges? After all, if you believe every British government for the last 30 years, that must be the right thing to do because they do that in the US as well.
In the view of TheOpinionSite.org, PCCs are a political gimmick. If the government is really serious about reforming the accountability of the police in Britain, four things can be done:
- Reduce the number of police officers and make them do only what they are supposed to do – collect evidence and investigate crime
- Do what they do in Europe and have a judge overseeing every police investigation
- Get rid of all the corrupt police officers currently working in the force, prosecuting those who have broken the Law rather than allowing them to ‘retire’, take ‘sick leave’ or simply leave
- Make much less criminal ‘Law’ in the first place. There is far too much of it already. (For example, do we really need over 70 sexual offences when France has only 7 or more than 100 offences against the person when Germany has only 12?)
Once the government starts to do the above, we may be prepared to take the election of PCCs seriously. Until then however, such elections can be seen only as a waste of money, totally unnecessary and politically manipulative.
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