Time to scrap the Cambs and Peterborough Police and Crime Commissioner?

Time to scrap the Cambs and Peterborough Police and Crime Commissioner?

Background

In the 2010 general election, the manifestos of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats outlined plans, to replace or reform the existing police authorities. In coalition government the scheme was introduced.

The role of Police and Crime Commissioner, covering Peterborough, was created in November 2012, following an election held on 15 November 2012, and replaced the Cambridgeshire Police Authority.

£150k worth of politicians looking at bicycles!

There have been 3 elections; in 2012, when turnout was just 15.9%, in 2016, when turnout was 30.56% and 2021, when the turnout was 37%.

We’ve had 4 commissioners and all of them have been Conservative.

One of the reasons we have had 4 is because, one of them, Jason Ablewhite, resigned following reports he’d been “sending pictures of his genitals to a woman”.

Take the oath

Successful candidates are also asked to swear an “oath of impartiality” before taking office:

“I do solemnly and sincerely promise that I will serve all the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in the office of police and crime commissioner without fear or favour.

“I will act with integrity and diligence in my role and, to the best of my ability, will execute the duties of my office to ensure that the police are able to cut crime and protect the public. I will give a voice to the public, especially victims of crime and work with other services to ensure the safety of the community and effective criminal justice.

“I will take all steps within my power to ensure transparency of my decisions, so that I may be properly held to account by the public. I will not seek to influence or prevent any lawful and reasonable investigation or arrest, nor encourage any police action save that which is lawful and justified within the bounds of this office.”

What’s the cost?

The commissioner’s salary is presently £71,400 per annum (£36 p/h). While the role of deputy commissioner receives, £28,560 (£27 p/h) and is required to work flexibly, equating to 2.5 days per week.

  • For the record, the best paid police officers in this area, get paid £19 an hour.

There are also staffing costs, with some on significant amounts, such as the Chief Executive on £105,000 and the Director of Commissioning on £60,896.

In 2020/21, the office for the Commissioner had a budget of £1.2m.

“….the policing budget in Cambridgeshire is facing significant pressures over the coming four years, with a current financial pressure over the period of £4.3m.” (Latest statement of accounts)

Can it really be scrapped?

Put simply, “Yes!” For example, in 2017, the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner was replaced by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, while the role of West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner was absorbed by the mayor of West Yorkshire in 2021.

It’s also worth noting that previously the Labour Party have publicly called for the position to be scrapped.

In conclusion

I think when the scheme first came about, there was a level of support. As many felt the local policing authorities had become quiet and toothless?

Since it’s inception, the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner role, has seen millions and millions of pounds spent, just on administration of the role …… with none of this money going to pay for actual police officers.

I’d suggest that the people who have benefitted most from the role, are those who’ve been employed within the office of the Commissioner, rather than local citizens?

Equally, the Commissioner role should be someone independent, who enacts increased openness on the service and acts as a link between the everyday people and the force itself. Yet, right now, our present Commissioner is an ex-copper, “one of the boys”, meaning his perception is clouded, to some degree by his experience.

Furthermore, the fact that the role of Deputy Police Crime Commissioner was created, despite it not needing to be, and that now we have another Tory in that role, who got the job without any competition, provides a stench of political nepotism, in my opinion!

We also cannot ignore, the fact that recently, it was reported one area of Peterborough was revealed as the most dangerous place in Cambridgeshire, according to crime figures.

Thus, given the given the level of crime in Peterborough, and daily occurrences, I’d strongly suggest that the role of Police and Crime commissioner is now a dead duck and needs scrapping.

Ideally, the policing responsibility would be handed directly to local councils, but at the very least should be placed under the responsibility of the elected mayor for the county.

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