LABOUR CONFERENCE: Police and Crime Commissioners to be scrapped if Labour wins power

Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett in the control room at Wymondham HQ. Photo: Bill Smith

Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett in the control room at Wymondham HQ. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant

A Labour government would abolish Police and Crime Commissioners and give local communities a 'policing contract' to enforce priorities like keeping police on the beat, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has said.

Labour faced embarrassment when its PCC for South Yorkshire Shaun Wright resisted calls to resign following the child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham, where he had served as head of children's services. Mr Wright quit the party but hung on in his £85,000 post for three weeks before stepping down.

Ms Cooper said that the coalition Government's introduction of directly-elected PCCs in 2012 'hasn't worked' and that scrapping the next round of PCC elections in 2016 would save £50 million which could be ploughed back into frontline policing.

'This was (Home Secretary) Theresa May's flagship reform and it just hasn't worked,' Ms Cooper told the Sunday Times.

'The model is just fundamentally flawed. It's costing too much. They spent £80 million on the original elections. It will cost £50 million to hold the next elections. It cost £3.7 million to hold the by-election in the West Midlands.

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'To spend all that money on something where so few people vote, when you could put that money back into policing, is wrong. Only 15% turned out for the original vote for the elections.

'You're concentrating power in the hands of one person who can't be held to account for four years. As you saw in South Yorkshire, we called for Shaun Wright to stand down but there was no mechanism to hold him to account.'

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Ms Cooper said that Labour will give local residents a legal guarantee that they can help decide local policing priorities and the number of police on the beat.

'There should be a policing contract with the local community, involving councillors but also giving the public direct access in public meetings,' she said. 'The council and the chief constable should be jointly appointing the local police commander.'

The Liberal Democrats said earlier this month that they would also scrap the controversial post.

At the time, Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett defended his role,

Mr Bett admitted he would 'make mistakes', but said his team had already scored valuable successes in forging closer bonds between public sector organisations, including those dealing with victim support, domestic abuse and mental health.

'After making sure all these people are on board, it has never happened before and that is what this job has achieved,' he said.

'We have been in position for almost two years and we are fighting a culture of a silo mentality in the public bodies that says: 'This is my area of business and no-one else's'. It is up to my team to prove their worth and I think they will.'

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