Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Copper, has pledge to end the role of Police and Crime Commissioners at Labour’s annual conference in Manchester and vowed that the posts would be scrapped if they win the next general election.
Police and Crime Commissioners are elected by local people and are accountable for how crime and community safety is tackled throughout the region. A police and crime commissioner is charged with securing efficient and effective policing of a police area in England and Wales, and is elected for a four year term. The first Commissioners were elected on 15 November 2012 and they replaced the now abolished police authorities.
Ms Cooper said:
“The model is just fundamentally flawed. They spent £80m on the original elections. It will cost £50m to hold the next elections. To spend all that money on something where so few people vote, when you could put that money back into policing is wrong.
“You’re concentrating power in the hands of one person who can’t be held to account for four years. As you saw in South Yorkshire, we called for Shaun Wright to stand down (following the Rotherham child sex exploitation scandal) but there was no mechanism to hold him to account.”
Although Labour opposed them and argued that the old system of police authorities should remain, they put up candidates and in Greater Manchester Mr Lloyd won a poll marred by a low turnout. Mr Lloyd, a Labour stalwart and former MP, strongly defended PCCs which were introduced by the Conservatives in 2012 although he stopped short of arguing Labour should keep them:
“Labour Police and Crime Commissioners have achieved a great deal since being elected to office two years ago, from better scrutinising the work of police to bringing partner agencies together to work better towards out shared goal of building safer communities. But it is clear there are fundamental flaws in the current system, from accountability gaps and a lack of coherent scrutiny mechanisms.
“We cannot return to the era of police authorities. These invisible bodies were, frankly, ineffective. One of the successes of Labour PCCs means that for the first time the public has a single, democratically-accountable figure for making our police accountable.
“As Labour looks to the future we must ensure that democratic accountability is not lost from what replaces commissioners. Along with my fellow Labour commissioners, we will be working closely with Yvette Cooper and her team in the coming months to bring forward proposals which ensure that local people are in the driving seat when it comes to their local police service and building community safety.”