12 September 2008
Police minister Tony McNulty has defended plans to introduce directly elected crime and policing representatives, despite scepticism from councillors.
Speaking at a Local Government Information Unit police accountability conference on September 9, McNulty rejected suggestions that people would be confused by the extra tier of elected representatives, or that councils should be the main democratic link with policing.
'I'm very, very clear that directly elected representatives will provide stronger democracy,' he said. 'We could simply give it to the county council – that's not local enough and it doesn't draw in the CDRPs [crime and disorder reduction partnerships], where policing is being discussed.'
The Home Office published the police reform green paper, From the neighbourhood to the national, in July. It is expected to form the basis of legislation in December or early next year.
The proposals included the creation of elected crime and policing representatives (CPRs) to chair local CDRPs. Elected mayors would automatically become the representatives. The representatives will then sit on police authorities. The paper also asked for views on introducing the model in London.
Speaking at the LGIU conference, Ian Laidlaw-Dickson, a member of Hertfordshire Police Authority and of the Association of Police Authorities, said the proposals were confusing and that representatives would be elected on local issues when a wider approach was necessary.
'You'll get a very parochial kind of policing. You won't get re-elected if you don't produce the goods for your community. I think they will be just as removed from people in their neighbourhood as police authorities are at the moment, maybe more so.'
Delegates at the conference, largely drawn from councils and police authorities, also raised concerns that the new representatives were unnecessary. McNulty said police authorities had been unable to provide directly accountable governance and that they would be inspected for the first time and held to account.
London Assembly member and deputy mayor for policing Kit Malthouse told delegates that the new administration in City Hall was working to improve the public's relationship with the police, especially in the outer London boroughs, creating one 'simple line of accountability and engagement throughout London'.