Today, the 15th November, in England and Wales there will be a elections for the new Police and Crime Commissioners; the first ever elections. We are told the PCCs will provide us with a voice and that they are a new layer of democracy. The police authorities drawn from local councils are however to be abolished.
Commissioners and the process set up to choose them are widely seen as a waste of time and resources. It is likely there will be mass abstentions as voting figures are predicted to be no more than 20%.
In present day capitalism, democracy is the merest of fig leaves. In order to give a pretence of public scrutiny to the planned privatisation of the police, the charade of police commissioner elections is due to take place. This is a time when there are cuts in police services, the destruction of the public service ethos in the police force and the handing over of policing to private security companies. There is now a need for a “save our police” campaign.
When the candidates papers were due to come out, UNISON which represents police support workers called on those standing to ‘come clean’ on any plans for privatisation of the police service.
Ian Blair, a previous head of the Metropolitan Police called for a boycott of the election. The government’s response, in the words of “Justice” minister Chris Grayling, was to say this advice was “silly”.
In the USA elections for commissioners and sheriffs can bring out populism and bigotry in equal measure, some candidates stand on thinly veiled racist tickets, or on promises to execute particular individuals. Do the ConDem government wish to sink to these low standards?
In these changes to the running of police services we are told the Police Commissioner will have no say on day to day operational matters this is supposed to stay with the Chief Constable. However in setting the budgets the PCC will make decisions that profoundly effect the service. This will give rise to constitutional wrangles. Despite all the commissioner will have no say on the total police budget nor will they be in a position to stop privatisation or any other aspect of government criminal justice or social policing policies.