Police and crime commissioners a 'failing experiment'

Published on Monday, 25 November 2013 16:09
Written by Daniel Mason

The government's introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners has been "riddled with failings" and the "experiment" should be abandoned, according to an independent review published today.

In a wide-ranging report on the future of policing in England and Wales, former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Stevens said more powers should be handed to local authorities instead.

"The PCC model is systemically flawed as a method of democratic governance and should be discontinued in its present form at the end of the term of office of the 41 serving PCCs," Lord Stevens wrote in Policing for a better Britain.

He argued that, while some of the coalition government's police reforms – such as changes to officers' pay and conditions – were "important and necessary", the PCCs had "proven less successful".

"The government has created a stand-off with the police service that has left officer morale at rock bottom," he continued.

"There is little public knowledge of, or support for, this experiment in democratic policing," the report concluded. "There have been well-documented problems with how PCCs appointed their staff and handle their relations with chief officers.

"It remains difficult to envisage how a single individual can provide effective democratic governance of police forces covering large areas, diverse communities and millions of people. In sum, we are confronted with the spectre of an experiment that is failing."

The review was set up by Labour two years ago and the party said it would consult on the findings before deciding which of the 37 recommendations to include in its manifesto for the 2015 general election.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was "the first step in setting a new direction for policing in the 21st century". Meanwhile Yvette Cooper, Labour's shadow home secretary, added that the question on PCCs was "not whether to reform but how to reform."

The Police Federation's vice chairman Steve White said Lord Stevens was right to highlight the extent and pace of the changes introduced by the current government as a problem.

"The scale of police reform has clearly been too much, too soon and the public and government should be greatly concerned about the detrimental impact this has had on neighbourhood policing."

He claimed the reforms imposed on the police were "setting us up to fail".

Add comment