Headlines: October 15th, 2008

The Home Office is being urged to reconsider proposals for new politicians to act as policing representatives amid fears that the move might alienate ordinary voters. The Local Government Information Unit calls the idea ‘risky’ and suggests instead that local authorities should take on a kind of commissioning role based on experience from around the world.

The idea is contained in the think-tank’s response to the Policing Green Paper published in July, which proposed the creation of Crime and Policing Representatives with the new politicians sitting on Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships and Police Authorities.

The LGiU believes there are four serious problems with the Green Paper proposal. Firstly, it says, the new political role will be introduced only outside London and in areas where there is no elected mayor. Some local council areas will have several representatives and others will share a single member and few members of the public will know what a CDRP or Police Authority is. This, says the LGiU, will alienate the people who count, ordinary voters. It also points out that councillors are deeply opposed to the plan to create new politicians and this could hurt neighbourhood policing. Cutting crime, the response argues, required a joined-up approach but the Finally it is concerned that the posts are being created at a time when the public sector needs to make savings. “Can we afford to have a politician whose election promises will be all about spending more?,” it asks.

Amelia Cookson, the LGiU’s head of the Centre for Service Transformation, said the past month had taught us we live in a globalised world where we needed to look beyond our borders for solutions. She added, “The Home Office is proposing controversial new measures to create a new kind of local politician on crime. But these proposals are completely divorced from international experience of what works and what doesn’t.”