Of course, the Coalition's idea of a Police Commissioner bears no relation to that originally envisaged by Hannan & Carswell in their papers published under the auspices of the Centre for Policy Studies: The Localist Papers, which were the forerunners to "The Plan". In the Localist Papers they called for elected sheriffs who would have the power to set procedures, levels of crime and sentencing. In fact the paper entitled "Send for the Sheriff" states:
"The deployment of police resources, the prioritisation of offences and the control of budgets should be the responsibility of Sheriffs, elected on a county or city basis. Sheriffs should also take over the function of the Crown Prosecution Service, acquiring the right to set local sentencing guidelines (although not to interfere in individual cases)."As with everything that the Coalition has introduced to do with the devolution of power and 'localism', what has emerged in the form of policy has been a 'watered down' version of direct democracy and one which retains government's 'central control' of both localism and the devolution of power. Of interest to readers, whilst "Send for the Sheriff" does not appear to be readily available on-line, the idea encapsulated in the original paper can be found here, in an article from the Spectator.
In other words, to deal with this on a 'local' level, there would be no more Thames Valley Police; the three counties involved, namely Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire would each have their own police forces (as it used to be in the good old days). If the people of Oxfordshire voted for a zero tolerance of crime, sentencing to mean what it said, a 'hang'em & flog'em' form of justice, Buckinghamshire voted for the present community order & asbo form of justice, whilst Berkshire voted for something in between - then that is what would prevail. That is 'localism' and that is what one aspect of direct democracy would entail.
Any police force must not - and cannot - be seen to encompass any form of political doctrine and for that reason I would suggest that anyone who has held a political appointment or who has issued what are patently political statements, at any level, cannot be considered for what must be seen as an apolitical appointment - which conveniently rules out any applications from anyone employed by ACPO! No doubt our political parties are working on the basis that "a Baird in the hand is worth two in the bush".
My line of argument leads to the general acceptance of the idea of direct democracy, in that should it not be the people of a 'locale' who decide the type of society under which they wish to live? Should it not be the people who decide what type of schools they want, or what type of health service they want? Should not an element of 'referism', ie wherein those wishing to provide a service need to publish 'estimates' in which they ask us to agree their spending plans - which all things considered comprises the spending of public money - and that that be part of their election manifestos?
What say you, readers?