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Archive - Wednesday, 11 April 2012
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Mixed reaction to police set-up
PEOPLE in Oxfordshire are keeping their powder dry when it comes to standing as an elected police crime commissioner.
Every police force in the country will have a police crime commissioner on an £85,000 a year salary from November.
The newly created roles are the result of a Goverment shake-up which will see the demise of local police authorities.
Anyone on the electoral roll in Oxfordshire will get a chance to vote for their choice of a commissioner representing the Thames Valley in a polling day set for November 15.
But as yet, no-one has put themselves forward in the county for the job.
The commissioner’s powers are far reaching and include the ability to sack chief constables, set out a five-year police and crime plan, determine local policing priorities and set a local precept and the annual force budget in consultation with chief constables.
Labour Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said last night the commissioners were not needed and labelled them “a colossal waste of money”.
While the idea for commissioners, brought in by the Conservatives, was to make the functions and budgets held by police authorities more accountable, Mr Smith argues: “There’s no demand for this from the public.
“At best I think it risks confusion in the direction of police forces and at worst it opens up suspicion of political interference.
“It’s going to consume more money and the police are under enough financial pressure as it is at the moment.”
However Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood, a Conservative, supports the move.
She said: “Given that fewer than 10 per cent of people currently know they can go to their local police authority if they have a problem with local policing, getting the chance to elect and hold to account police and commissioners promises to give local people a much stronger voice in how their streets are policed.”
Oxfordshire county councillor Kieran Mallon, a Conservative, has refused to rule himself out. He said: “It seems to be the case that people in Thames Valley are keeping their powder dry.”
Deputy Chief Constable Francis Hapgood said: “The force and police authority are working closely together to ensure a smooth transition from the police authority to the PCC.
“A project board is in place that is addressing the areas of change. It is really important that policing services continue to be delivered throughout the change.”