From the Bristol Liberal Democrats
BRISTOL Lib Dems today welcomed a serious setback in Parliament for the government’s plans for elected police commissioners.
“The legislation is fundamentally flawed,” said city council leader Barbara Janke.
“How can it be right for local policing policy to be based on the results of a kind of X-Factor contest – or the number of votes one particular area can deliver? It’s contrary to the principles of safety and security.”
The government will now have to look again at the elected commissioner idea favoured by the Tories following a defeat in the House of Lords last night (Weds 11th).
The Lords voted by 188 to 176 in favour of a Lib Dem rebel amendment to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, removing the proposal completely from the legislation.
Ministers want to replace elected police authorities with a single elected police commissioner, who would have the power to hire and fire chief constables and control the budget of their police force.
But Lib Dem peer Baroness Harris, who lead the opposition to the plans, said they posed “great risks to policing” and raised doubts about who would have the power to hire and fire chief constables.
She said: ”Yes, the electorate can throw them out after four years but that’s a very long time in policing, as well as politics, and irreparable damage might by then have been done to this precious and world-recognised jewel that is British policing.”
Other Lib Dem rebels in the Lords said their biggest fear was the politicisation of the police. One said: “I fear that what is populist may sometimes be dangerous, and may not reflect the needs of those who can shout less loudly.”
Elected police commissioners are likely to be reinserted into the bill when it returns to the Commons. But Barbara Janke said today: “I hope last night’s defeat in the Lords will make the government think again about this ill-conceived scheme.”