Misguided Proposals to scrap PCCs would be a kick in the teeth for democracy

22/09/2014

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne comments on the important role of PCCs:

Today’s proposal to scrap PCCs and return to unelected, invisible police authorities is vague at best, and threatens a backward step in accountability, and a kick in the teeth for democracy for the thousands of Sussex people who voted in the PCC elections.

In Sussex, the proposal could potentially introduce three local policing boards and yet more layers of expensive bureaucracy. It would provide the people who would be determining police priorities an opportunity in which to hide from public scrutiny and be less accountable. This is totally unacceptable.

I support the need for a more robust way of removing PCCs who fall short of the expectations of their electors. The APCC is currently working with the Home Office to achieve this through enhancing the powers of Police and Crime Panels and introducing a new power for the Home Secretary to recall a PCC in exceptional circumstances. However, I also believe that this new accountability should apply to anyone holding an elected public office, including MPs.

This is a brand new role with a wide-ranging but cohesive remit that includes the criminal justice system and the funding of victims’ services- these were areas that were never covered by the Police Authority.

The energy and enthusiasm of both sides in the recent Scottish referendum shows that people really welcome the chance to exercise their democratic right to express their views and seek change. The 2012 PCC elections were the first time that local people could voice their preference about local policing and crime priorities.

I took on the role of Sussex PCC at a very difficult time for policing and I have worked with the Chief Constable to maintain service levels to the public through innovation, collaboration with other forces and better use of existing resources.

In the last year I have challenged many existing procedures and protocols and made sure local residents have a powerful voice in the policing of their communities.

Under the Police Authority the target for solved burglary was just 17%. This meant that less than one in five burglaries were expected to be solved. As PCC I have represented public opinion and challenged Sussex Police to improve on this.

As a result, solved rates for burglary this year have increased across the county by 26% and a staggering 61% in Brighton and Hove compared to the same period last year.

This represents a real result for the residents of Sussex and most importantly means fewer victims of burglary.

I am hugely privileged to have been elected to this role, and I am determined to be an effective voice for local people by ensuring a tailored approach to policing that meets the various challenges across our county.

I believe the challenges for modern policing cannot be met by a one-size-fits-all, centrally determined straightjacket policy. They require an understanding of local need that is determined by local people via their elected representative with the ability to get things done. This is why PCCs must stay.

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