This is a post I started writing back in June and parked for a bit. Now it’s very much back in the news. And just a couple of days ago, the Conservative Party set up this page for potential candidates to apply.
When we set up UKCrimeStats we understood back then that elected Police heads would be held accountable not just at the ballot box but by their relative performance over time according to the crime data. An independent and trusted platform, UKCrimeStats would be needed to keep track of their performance as well as provide more incisive analysis and statistics, dig deeper into the data and where necessary, expose the errors – see our new page and spreadsheet and crime data forum – a lot of data still needs cleaning up.
For all that, I’m well aware that one can be a very effective Police Leader in a high crime area, where it is even rising through no fault of their own – correlation is not causation. But I’m disappointed that some Policing traditionalists believe the voting public is quite unable to discern the externalities to local crime trends and is even less capable of making a sensible choice at the polling booth once they were made part of the process.
Anyway, I’m all for lots of open debate on this – your comments as always, are most welcome. What do you think, will PCCs be a help or a hindrance to fighting crime?
What we need to do is move beyond this disappointingly one-sided article in the Western Mail from earlier this year. Here are a couple of points the article faithfully reports without challenge (in italics) and what some of us might have said in rejoinder in bold;
1. Opponents of the UK Government’s flagship plan to scrap police authorities and replace them with elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) last night used the evidence of high crime levels in Gwent to call for a re-think, saying funds for front-line policing would be diverted to pay for expensive elections.
Actually, this is back to front. The whole point of this reform is to create bottom-up political pressure which diverts resources away from bureaucracy to the front line. And according to a Policy Exchange report, The Cost of the Cops – there is quite a lot of bureaucracy. As Police Minister Nick Herbert says here
“I believe that elected police and crime commissioners will have a very strong focus on reducing the burden of bureaucracy and administration in their forces precisely because they will feel pressure from their electorate to ensure that resources are directed to the front line. We are also placing police and crime commissioners under a duty to collaborate and I am sure that they will work together to drive out unnecessary costs from their forces.”
2. . . . there is evidence from other countries like Zimbabwe and China that politicisation of the police has dangerous consequences.
Quite the most preposterous argument I’ve ever heard. Electricity or money don’t work too well in Zimbabwe either, does that mean we shouldn’t have these too?