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Will police bosses be fit for the role?
NOVEMBER 15, the election date for the police and crime commissioners, is fast approaching, but little appears to have been published, locally or nationally, about the background and suitability of intended candidates for these posts.
The commissioners will be responsible, among many other duties, for hiring and firing chief constables, a task previously undertaken by a 17-strong police authority.
Because of the relationship that could develop between commissioners and chief constables, and the sensitive nature of some police activities, what assurances are being given that each candidate will have been positive-vetted prior to the electorate casting its vote?
If vetting has not taken place, how long will it be before some newly appointed commissioner is faced with some hopefully forgotten unpleasant aspect of an earlier life?
Graeme Robertson, Tadcaster Road, York.
• SOMETIMES I think we have too much democracy in this country.
I believe that few members of the public know much about the work of a police commissioner, or who would do that work well. Yet we are to have an election.
Further, I note from The Press of October 20 that the Conservative and Labour Parties each support a candidate. Will someone please explain to me why any post relating to the police should be the subject of party politics?
Joyce McDougald, Dower Court, William Plows Avenue, York.
• ARE we to assume that the new police commissioners will have the necessary qualifications to carry out their duties?
Age and maturity, having been exposed to the trials and tribulations to many situations at the pointed end, is essential.
Will they be privy in their knowledge and understanding of criminal and civil law along with an in-depth history of law and order established in this country, from Anglo-Saxon times to Sir Robert Peel’s introduction of the new police, which is strewn with pitfalls waiting for the inexperienced amateur television detective?
Limited information appears to be available about applicants. When it comes to Parliamentary or local elections, we are flooded with leaflets and propaganda; on this occasion none is available.
Not everyone has access to online information.
Kenneth Bowker, Vesper Walk, Huntington, York.
• I hope readers have sharpened their pencils ready to vote on the November 15, election of North Yorkshire police commissioner?
For the fist time since I was old enough to vote I am pondering as to weather or not I will put my mark on the voting slip.
Why? Well, do we really want a police commissioner who is tied to either the Labour or Conservative political machines. We do not have an independent candidate standing, due I understand to the costs involved. I can foresee a conflict of interests whichever candidate is elected, especially if they are told to toe the party line.
Another burning question – is it right that one person should have the power to dismiss the chief constable.
Currently the office of chief constable is overseen by a committee, within which there must be varying opinions on the policing of the county. Through the committee structure there will be debates prior to any major decisions being taken.
By dispensing with the committee the final decision on how the county is policed is in the hands of one person – that cannot be right.
It is us, the residents of North Yorkshire who will suffer should there be a dictatorial commissioner appointed.
David Rhodes, The Shrubberies, Cliffe.
• WITH regard to North Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, kindly let me add my name to the ranks of the Jeremiahs seen in your letters column.
Mr Arnott is undoubtedly correct when describing whichever candidate wins as an “amateur”, since neither candidate has any effective policing background.
We should blame the Labour and Conservative Parties for failing to pre-qualify their candidates by ensuring that they have both relevant skills and experience.
The ideal candidate, though, is unlikely to be a former cop – any former chief, even senior officer – who may think he knows better than the current chief officer team, leaving us at risk of competing police management teams.
While the commissioner will require administrative staff support, there should be significant savings from not having a police authority administration, including an expensive chief executive.
There will also be savings from not remunerating 17 authority members and covering their legitimate expenses.
We will suffer one enormous loss: no true local accountability. Scrutinising the police commissioner will be the North Yorkshire police and crime panel, which is simply not designed, or authorised to be as effective as a robust, healthy police authority.
Nick Blitz, (North Yorkshire Police Authority member, 2001-03), Haxby, York.
• WITH regard to the election for the new police commissioner, it is not that I disagree too much with the creation of the position, but that in my opinion the candidates really are a bit of a joke. Is this the best that we can do? This position should be held by an independent person who is not too involved in politics.
To politicise this post would almost certainly politicise the police force, and then where would we be?
In addition there would the costs involved – travelling, subsistence, administration, consultants, courses and education.
A nice little earner for the successful candidate, but yet another expense for the taxpayer – and in this city residents already pay too much for what they get.
Previous work on the police authority will be of little or no use in a position which has the power to sack the chief constable.
I have always voted on matters that require it, without an independent candidate, but this election will result in spoiled ballot papers; mine being one of them.
Steve Helsdon Howe Hill Close, Holgate, York.
• WE HAVE the elections of police commissioners coming up in the near future.
It would be excellent if The Press published applicants’ CVs of what they have done with their lives, with particular emphasis on what ability they have to carry out the duties of a police commissioner.
They need to be able to command respect, numerate to understand budgets and tenacious get things done.
Let’s have the information to enable the public to vote with their head and not a vote for a political party stooge.
Lee Thompson, Stonethwaite, Woodthorpe, York.
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