New police election plan 'could cost £130m'

Police and crime commissioners could cost more than £130 million to set up and run in the first year, figures showed today.

Holders of the controversial new posts will also be the focus of a dramatic shift in power from Whitehall in a move that will usher in a new era of policing, Home Secretary Theresa May said.

But shadow home secretary Ed Balls warned the move stood in the face of a 150-year tradition of keeping politics out of policing and would come only as a result of unnecessary expense in the face of 20% cuts to police budgets.

Police authorities, which will be scrapped under the plans, said it was the "wrong policy at the wrong time".

But Mrs May insisted the most radical reforms to policing in more than 50 years would "give people value for money".

Asked about the lack of the Home Secretary's power to intervene if a commissioner or force was failing, Mrs May said it was time for change and the locally-elected commissioners would have a "mandate from the people in relation to that police force".

"The accountability will be directly to that police and crime commissioner," she said.

"This is an era where not all the decisions come from the centre.

"It isn't that Whitehall is the power that is telling everybody else what to do.

"We're having a bold, dramatic shift of power. This is a Government that believes in shifting power from the central to the local level.

"People will have the ability to remove a police and crime commissioner come election time."

But she said it was not the case that there would be no action in the four years between each election.

"If a force was completely failing, there would be questions being asked, there would be police and crime panels, I expect HMIC (Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary) would be looking at this as well.

"But I think what's important is to get away from the concept that it is always the case that it's going to be central Government that takes decisions on these things.

"That's the change. There is a complete shift in power and thinking."

The Home Secretary will have no powers to sack a commissioner - or a chief constable - under the proposals.

But she could intervene "if the police and crime commissioner was preparing to set a budget that was less than necessary to maintain appropriate policing in the area", Mrs May said.

The Home Secretary will also have the power to ensure "proper collaboration" on national policing issues.

Mrs May added the new system "will cost no more than police authorities".

But the elections, to be held every four years from May 2012, will cost £50 million and there will also be a one-off transition cost of £5 million, an impact assessment released by the Home Office showed.

Mrs May said: "I do think it will give people value for money.

"I think this is a very important step which is going to ensure that policing responds to local needs.

"I think that direct accountability for a police and crime commissioner will be a very important step-change."

Each of the new roles could attract pay and benefits of about £122,000, the impact assessment showed, but the exact amount will be set following consultation with the senior salaries review body.

Mrs May said the Government was not setting a level for the minimum turnout needed to ensure those elected had a mandate.

"My strong belief is that there's a lot of people out there who think it's absolutely right to have the ability to elect somebody who is going to have responsibility for policing in their area," she said.

Policing and Criminal Justice Minister Nick Herbert said it should be up to the public to decide who they want to stand for the new roles.

But serving officers, staff at the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the National Policing Improvement Agency and councils - excluding teachers - will all be banned from standing.

Commissioners will be suspended if charged with an offence carrying a maximum sentence of two years or more and disqualified from standing if convicted and sentenced to three months or longer - even if that sentence is suspended.

And the commissioners will not be able to serve more than two terms, each of four years.

Mr Herbert added the Government was also carefully considering MPs' suggestions that there should be a four-year cooling-off period for former senior officers before they can take up the posts in their force area to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own