Despite voters’ apathy, PCCs are here to stay

 

Share
Related Topics

Such was the relief when a woman exercised her democratic rights in the Devon town of Exmouth that staff broke into spontaneous applause. No such joy for their colleagues at one polling station in Gwent – they spent the whole day waiting in vain for a voter to darken their doors.

This time last year the Home Office and the political parties were desperately trying to whip up interest in the biggest shake-up in policing for a generation. They failed dismally: elections for the 41 new posts of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were greeted with a collective yawn across England and Wales and just 15 per cent of voters bothered to cast their ballot.

Twelve months on, only the most skilful Home Office spin-doctor could present the arrival of PCCs as wholly successful. Several force areas experienced a break-down of the relationship between chief constables and their PCCs.

The Lincolnshire PCC became embroiled in a messy dispute which led to his temporary chief constable being suspended and then reinstated after a court hearing. The chief constable of Avon and Somerset also went to court, but lost, when his commissioner refused to renew his contract, while Gwent’s chief constable was instructed by her political master to retire or resign.

Enthusiasts for the new system insist it is already a success as 70 per cent of the public know of the posts’ existence, compared with a paltry seven per cent awareness of the previous system of police authorities.

Jon Collins, of the Police Foundation think tank, believes it is far too early to reach a conclusion about whether the experiment has worked, adding: “I don’t think most people would say policing on their streets has changed radically.”

Even Home Secretary Theresa May admitted the performance of the 41 commissioners had been both “good and bad”, but stressed there was “enough that is positive”. The Conservatives are now debating whether the remit of commissioners should be extended to oversee the fire and ambulance services. One supporter of the move says it is logical given that the “blue light” services increasingly work in tandem.

At the same time Labour, whose candidates were elected to 13 of the PCC posts last year, is preparing to drop its opposition to the policy. The party concedes some commissioners have made a positive impact. The former Scotland Yard chief, Lord Stevens, who is heading a review of the future of policing for Labour, is due to recommend the PCC network is retained, albeit with greater oversight to ensure they do not abuse their powers.

Whatever the outcome of the next general election, it looks like commissioners are here to stay.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Developer (ASP.NET, F#, SQL, MVC, Bootstrap, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Independent has always been clear on its position when it comes to Israel and Palestine  

When both Palestinians and Israelis think we are biased, we must be doing something right

Will Gore
Leon Brittan has been accused of being given a dossier on paedophile activity in the 1980s when he was Home Secretary  

The press is using ‘paedomania’ to wrongfoot politicians post phone-hacking

Ian Burrell
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?