The BBC is reporting that the Stevens review of policing in England and Wales is recommending that Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) should be abolished and replaced by a new system.
The review, set up Labour and led by the former Met Police Commissioner Lord Stevens who was handpicked by Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, said PCCs, introduced in 2012, should be scrapped in 2016 and more power given to local councillors and local authorities. Irony of ironies, this is what Labour wants and what every police Chief Constable wants.
While the public overwhelmingly ignored the opportunity to vote for PCCs, the problem with this recommended return to the previous structure is that it control over policing is blurred and the ability of chief constables to run rings around local councillors as they work in cahoots with local government officers to pursue an agenda separate to that of ‘elected representatives’.
Councillors, who would be appointed to the ‘local’ police authority in return for additional cash and expenses, would be as ineffective as they were previously under the new regime. But just to make sure the ‘local’ police ‘service’ can walk its own path with minimal interference from the police authority, Stevens says the current 43-force structure is “untenable” and that some police forces should be merged – an act that will further erode the notion of local policing.
In a classic example of the double speak that infests the public sector, Lord Stevens said there were 37 “radical” recommendations, including a commitment to neighbourhood policing as the “building block of fair and effective policing”. Yet the concept of genuine neighbourhood policing is incompatible with the resulting larger forces that would be brought about through the recommended mergers.
Stevens is just another politicised plod, working to an agenda that relegates crime detection and prevention, and policing according to local priorities further down the police’s list of focus areas. This becomes abundantly clear as while Conservative Home Secretary, Theresa May, believes the police service’s primary role is to cut crime, Labour supports Stevens’ view that police have a wider “social purpose” too, improving safety and well-being in communities – language right out of the Marxist-inspired Common Purpose playbook.
So if Labour wins the next election we can expect another change to policing that will be made without any reference to the public that has to foot the bill and put up with poor performance, low clear up rates and police ‘managers’ who choose to focus on soft target offences and thought crimes, while serious offences all too often experience low grade investigations and a failure to convict the offenders.
And people still vote because…?