30th July – Elected Police Commissioner in Swindon?
The local and national media have been recently been discussing an announcement by Home Secretary Theresa May to abolish police authorities and replace them with an elected Police Commissioner from May 2012. The Swindon Advertiser covered the topic here.
Swindon is part of the "Wiltshire Police Authority" which has six councillors appointed by Wiltshire Council, three councillors appointed by Swindon council, and eight "independent" people. One of this eight is a magistrate.
The proposal is to elect an overall Police Commissioner and to replace the Police Authority with a "Crime and Safety Panel". This panel will continue to scrutinize the Police, oversee the budget and hold public meetings.
Cllr Dale Heenan "As your local Councillor in Coleview, Covingham and Nythe, I believe this move is a welcome step in the right direction for residents, but it's mainly about accountability and greater visibility about what the Police are doing.
The media is reporting this as "a blueprint for reforming the police which promises the biggest organisational shake-up for 50 years". I think this is stretching things quite a lot because all this elected position will do is replace the existing Police Authority.
Local residents may not always agree with the Police's priorities and the amount of visible presence on our streets, but I have no doubts that if the Police Authorities were scrapped tomorrow, the Police would continue largely unaffected. With that being the case, many residents will wonder why do we have 17 people involved and I certainly couldn't answer them.
This idea was in the Conservative Manifesto at the General Election, and I'm pleased to see it come forward under the Coalition. We may not always agree with what the Government does, but on this I think they are right !"