Home secretary Theresa May last night claimed elected commissioners could set police precepts as high as they liked, only to then admit ministers had already capped the amount they could ask for.

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Under plans introduced by the government, voters will next month elect police and crime commissioners (PCCs) with powers over how forces around the country are run.

In her speech to the Conservative conference yesterday Ms May said each PCC would be able to decide how much the public contributed to their force’s budget through a power to set the police precept, collected through council tax.

She told delegates: “The commissioners will lead the fight against crime in their communities, and they will have significant powers. They will be responsible for setting police budgets and deciding how much the public pays for policing through council tax.”

But speaking to the Eastern Daily Press afterwards, she was forced to accept that the PCCs would not have complete freedom because the government had capped at two per cent the amount council tax could rise without authorities facing a public referendum.

She said: “There is of course the cap that is going in more widely in relation to council tax and obviously the police precept comes into that. We think it’s right that we’ve announced the freezing for council tax because life is difficult for a lot of people.

“But it will be possible, if somebody wants to take a precept above the maximum threshold that has been set, for them to take it to a referendum and that will be for them to decide what they are doing.

“PCCs will have to accept that they will have to be operating inside the funding environment from government that’s been set, with this caveat in relation to the precept.”

It was trailed yesterday that each PCC would also be able draw up a “menu” offering crime victims a chance to decide punishments given to offenders, repairing damage or doing unpaid work in the community, for example.

But Ms May also admitted it would be some time before the power came in, as it would require legislation to be passed through Parliament first.

Meanwhile, she appeared to accept predictions that turnout in the elections may be very low, with the Electoral Reform Society estimating it could sink to 18.5pc.

She said: “Getting people to understand about the first elections and getting people to recognise that elections are taking place is always a challenge.

“Whatever the mandate that is received by the PCC they will have a democratic mandate that the police authorities do not,” she added.

4 comments

  • Talking of the Conservative party conference, once again I note that Richard Bacon MP has miserably failed to make the news at all. I really wonder how he spends his time, it seems such a waste of the half a million pounds he has received in salary and expenses since the last election. I doubt these police commissioners will achieve much for the people of Norfolk either, but remarkably they will be cheaper than MPs.

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    john smith

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • These new and expensive commissioners, their salary is 72.000, with another 18.000 per annum in pension contributions, will have to deal with the legacies left to them by previous administrations. here in Norfolk, This meant that the last PA chair, for 16 years, pushed a massive deficit ahead of himself, some 1.13 billion pension fund deficit. Dividfe this um by 800.000 and you have a sum per person. We are approaching a time when we least can afford the police whilst needing them most, no wonder Mervyn Lambert did want no part in a poison chalice. All I know is that he did not need the money.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • Please explain how an expected turnout of 18.5% of the electorate equates to “Whatever the mandate that is received by the PCC they will have a democratic mandate that the police authorities do not,”

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    Gabrielle Hill

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • News management Gabrielle, eye washing and without any outcry from any media. less than one fifth is deemed a fair representative democratic mandate and we are prepared for a figure of under 20%. Hmm, how much voter apathy does there have to be, before they realise that their party political boats are up the creek without a paddle? Will we call a 9% participation of eligible voters a democratic mandate? 5%?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

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