Friday, November 20, 2009

ACPO says Tory Police plans will lead to resignations

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has apparently warned that plans by the Conservatives to place forces under local political control may lead to the resignation of senior officers.

In a move that is purely political and I personally believe has more to do with the political persuasions of ACPO Sir Hug Orde said that police independence was vital to public trust and democracy and effectively that Conservative plans to allow locally elected officials to hire and fire police chiefs and set force budgets in England and Wales was crazy.

In an interview with the Today programme he effectively said we know what we’re doing and these democratically elected individuals won’t. Also saying
"Even the perception that the police service of this country… is under any political influence, I think that suggests you cannot argue that you are a proper democratic society. It's as simple and as stark as that.”

He effectively argued that handing control of local police forces to local regions will somehow create a police state, as if the town councillors of Milton Keynes are going to start sending police officers on personal vendetta’s arresting their enemies and rounding them up for summary torture and shipping off to the Gulag a la the old USSR.
In reality we currently have a centrally controlled police force working to targets and objectives set by the central government that often fail to take into account local needs. If anything we are far closer to a police state today with forces accountable and in the control of central government than we ever would be under the control of locally democratically elected officials.

Perhaps what ACPO are really worried about is that these individuals (be they specially elected or existing elected officials) will start questioning the ridiculous pay awards that their members get. The recent furore over Ian McPherson, the ex chief of Norfolk police who was paid nearly £130,000 a year and could earn an extra 20k a year in bonuses and alo pocketed a £70,000 relocation allowance (which included payment of stamp duty on his new house), only to see him move to the Met just a few years later I think shows the public’s concern about this issue. Something a democratically elected official wouldn’t be able to ignore.

Update: The Spectator Blog is pointing out that these kind of challenges will be a major issue for the Tories moving forward, particularly with the police who in the main remain a very unreformed organisation

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