Poll shows opposition to having a politician oversee the police

Posted on Saturday 25th September 2010 at 1:56 pm by SH (Editor)

Nearly three quarters of voters say they are not comfortable with a politician overseeing policing, according to the Avon and Somerset Police Authority’s (ASPA) poll on Police and Crime Commissioners.

The Police Authority asked a series of questions on its website to gauge public opinion for some of the radical proposals outlined in the Government’s ‘Policing in the 21st Century’ consultation paper.

One of the fears is that a Police and Crime Commissioner would politicise policing and that was echoed by the majority of voters, with 72% saying they were more comfortable with an independent person rather than a politician overseeing policing.

Chair of Avon and Somerset Police Authority Dr Heffer said: “I would be amazed if the police commissioner was not a political person due to the cost and time needed to wage an election campaign. In the proposed changes the day-to-day influence of 17 people including councillors and members of the community would be lost and replaced by the single interests and priorities of one elected person.”

Nearly 70% of voters believed introducing an election did not represent value for money and Dr Peter Heffer said the costs implications were madness given the pressures on budgets.

“Every penny should be focused on protecting frontline policing not setting up an additional local election and another layer of bureaucracy. We have already seen predictions that the cost to run elections could be £54million – the equivalent of 700 police officers. It just seems wrong for public money to be spent in this way when our communities, officers and staff are bracing themselves for extremely difficult financial times and huge uncertainty,” he said.

With elections earmarked for May 2012, 53% of people supported turning out to vote for a Commissioner. However, nearly three quarters, 72%, did not see the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners as a priority for the coalition government and over half, 54% did not think a Commissioner would represent or identify their policing needs.

Dr Heffer added: “You do not hear people calling for their local hospitals and local schools to be run by one person. It just doesn’t happen, and it’s no wonder the majority of people did not see a Commissioner as representing their local needs, how can they with 1.6 million people to look out for and 1,855 square miles to cover.”

All of the results from the two-week poll have been included in the Police Authority’s response to the Home Office consultation paper.

More information: Full results of the poll (ASPA)

Source: Avon and Somerset Police Authority

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