• David Williams

Would the money spent on PCCs be better spent on the front line?

A Facebook query that just won’t lie down, and a tough one to crack in 280 words.

Let’s start with the Peelian premise that the police are the public and the public are the police, and let’s accept that premise as legitimate.

It would be right therefore that the police should be answerable to the public and that some mechanism or ‘authority’ is needed to ensure the police are not ‘a law unto themselves’.

If that is the case then the interim answer to the question is no. Some funding would need to be directed away from the front line to resource the ‘authority’. So what should that authority look like?

The history of police accountability is long and complex: from being vested in local authority owned watch committees for whom power over the police reaffirmed their local influence and autonomy; through the merger of local forces into larger constabularies (the current 43); to attempts by government to centralise policing; and finally (almost) to Police Authorities.

The reasons and problems for these evolutions are many and varied with a final analysis being that it was necessary to replace bureaucratic responsibility and authority with democratic accountability – which brings us to PCCs.

Are PCCs a good idea? That’s yet to be determined - all that influence vested in one person?!

Are they value for money? Well they are cheaper than Police Authorities.

Are PCCs effective? In some cases yes probably. In other cases, probably not.

Would the money spent on PCCs be better used on the front line? No, absolutely not if you value democratic accountability. However, there may be a better solution. Let me know if you think of one.

Foot note – this blog has not been peer reviewed!

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