Labour Party Conference: Labour would abolish PCCs to save £50m

 

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The system of direct elections for Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), which has been dogged by controversy and received with apathy by the public, would be abolished by a Labour government.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said the 41 elected posts would be scrapped and oversight of police forces in England and Wales returned to local communities. The £50m saved would be diverted to front-line policing, she said.

Ms Cooper will also set out plans in her speech to the Labour annual conference for a shake-up of the police inspection regime in an effort to root out poor performance and corruption and rebuild public confidence in the service.

Barely one in six voters took part in the first elections for PCCs in November 2012, with the turnout falling to just 10.4 per cent in a by-election this summer for a new PCC in the West Midlands.

As some of the first holders of the posts clashed with their chief constables or faced questions over their expenses, even Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has acknowledged that her innovation has had mixed success.

The system faced further damaging headlines when the Labour PCC in South Yorkshire, Shaun Wright, resisted calls to resign for nearly three weeks, before stepping down four days ago.

Mr Wright had been the head of children’s services in Rotherham for part of the time when hundreds of young people in the town were being sexually abused by paedophile gangs.

Ms Cooper said: “This was Theresa May’s flagship reform and it just hasn’t worked. The model is just fundamentally flawed. It’s costing too much. They spent £80m on the original elections. It will cost £50m to hold the next elections.”

She told The Sunday Times: “To spend all that money on something where so few people vote, when you could put that money back into policing, is wrong.”

Labour is consulting on the options for replacing PCCs. They include making police chiefs accountable to groups of councillors or local boards including youth workers and crime prevention experts.

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