'Elected individuals' to oversee police forces

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A new role for elected individuals to oversee the work of police will be enshrined in laws unveiled by the Queen today.

The coalition Government has yet to come up with a catchy name for "directly-elected individuals" but they are heading for the Statute book nevertheless.

A Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill will include proposals to make police more accountable, create a border police force and tackle alcohol-related disorder.

Once known as "police commissioners", the controversial role has been a key plank of Tory law and order policy.

Some senior officers have raised concerns that the role could lead to political interference in frontline police decisions.

And they cautioned that single-issue groups with divisive policies, such as the BNP, could be handed power.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the directly-elected individuals will ensure police chiefs are held to account and serve their local people effectively.

She guaranteed that operational decisions will be left to the police and said the Government also wants to slash bureaucracy and get officers on the beat.

Britain's most senior officer, Scotland Yard boss Sir Paul Stephenson, has said he does not oppose the plans, as long as police independence is maintained.

The Bill will also amend health and safety laws that obstruct "commonsense policing" and hand police stronger powers to tackle booze-fuelled trouble.

A dedicated Border Police Force will be created from some kind of merger between the UK Border Agency and the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Officials in both organisations remain to be convinced about how this will work in practice and what extra security it will bring to the nation.

The 2003 Licensing Act faces an overhaul to give councils and police extra powers to strip pubs and bars who flout the law of their licences to serve alcohol.

The sale of alcohol below cost price, a multimillion-pound trade for supermarkets, will be banned.

Plans to introduce an annual quota on non-EU economic migrants will be introduced without primary legislation and done by secondary regulations.

The cap, which has yet to be decided on, was a headline Conservative manifesto commitment and clashed with the Lib Dems' more liberal view of immigration.

The limit will reduce net migration to the level of the 1990s with tens of thousands of new arrivals, not hundreds of thousands.