Empowering the public is the central theme of this government’s whole police reform programme. The police are a public service and they should serve and respond to local people. This is the reason why I support the introduction of directly elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs).
The ongoing centralisation of the police witnessed under the previous government has left the service disconnected from the communities they are there to serve. The approach of the last government was to intervene more and more in local policing in an attempt to make it more accountable. The police were directed by Whitehall diktat and targets. Nowhere was there a direct democratic check and balance to which Sir Robert Peel referred in 1829 as the bedrock of police activity.
From November this year, police and crime commissioners will bring democratic accountability to the police. They have the local knowledge and understanding to set their force’s policing priorities. They will have the democratic mandate to set the police budget and the council tax precept and also the power to hold chief constables to account for the performance of their force.
Commissioners will also have a mandate from the public which will allow them to get things done. If the local council isn’t working with the police to tackle noisy neighbours, the commissioner will bring them together. If local health services aren’t working with the police to tackle offending by drug addicts, the commissioner will make sure they do. You only need to look at London to see the benefits of having a directly elected local figure in charge of policing. Boris Johnson has put more police on the streets, increased police visibility and introduced innovative policies such as the new sobriety scheme.
I know that if Lincolnshire chooses to elect Richard Davies in next month’s election, we will experience these same benefits within our county. We need to see a positive approach to policing and one which sees a more visible presence of police officers. That is why I support Richard’s idea to introduce Cop Shops, which would establish contact points on every town high street in our County for residents to speak with police officers. His approach recognises that Lincolnshire has unique problems which requires local knowledge and I am sure that on November 15, residents across the County will give him a chance to set the priorities which matter to them.