Home Office to perform U-Turn on Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

I understand that Home Office Ministers in the House of Commons will tomorrow table eleventh hour amendments to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill.

Having spent the last few months arguing that no changes were possible, I am told that the changes will be major and that they will involve postponing the first elections for Policing and Crime Commissioners outside London until November 2012.

This is a major u-turn by Ministers and an expensive one.  Elections in November will cost a lot more than holding them in May 2012 or May 2013 when they would at least coincide with some other local elections.  And, of course,  turnout in a potentially wintry Autumn is likely to be much lower…..

It is not yet clear whether there are to be any other concessions, in particular, to require PCCs to act in a more collegiate fashion with a Board holding them in check.

Nor is it clear what this means for the timing of the changes in London, where the Mayoral elections are in May 2012 – just weeks before the Olympics – and where there were originally plans to implement the changes and create the new MOPC this autumn.

Either way this is an indication that the many long hours of debate in the House of Lords DID have an impact ….

9 thoughts on “Home Office to perform U-Turn on Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill”

  1. What’s the argument for the postponement? They won’t have everything ready by May 2012? Also what will the criteria be for people to stand for these Commissioner jobs? I hope there is some qualification criterion? Or do we expect choices to be politically partisan?

  2. Jon,

    When I read the bill there were no criteria, nor a qualification. Except that they were UK citizens. I don’t recall the nomination process, how many names required to second the person. Nor whether there is a deposit required.

    There has been very little comment by the political parties whether they will have candidates. I did spot one on a Tory blogsite yesterday: http://conservativehome.blogs.com/thetorydiary/2011/09/should-the-party-run-candidates-for-election-as-police-commissioners.html#comment-6a00d83451b31c69e20154352f5e8f970c

    Sir Hugh Orde, ACPO President, has clearly stated an expectation it will become a party political contest.

    There have been suggestions in the press that ‘extremists’ will stand.

    Alas the current bill and running far behind my recollections suggest there is little “flesh on the bones”.

  3. The Government’s position is that it would be wrong to limit the choice of the electorate by specifying any qualifications for the candidates to be Policing and Crime Commissioners. You cannot serve as a PCC if you are a serving police officer or member of police staff, a judge, a civil servant or a member of the armed forces. You must be over 18 and you must not be a bankrupt or have been convicted of an imprisonable offence. You cannot be an MP, an MEP, an MSP, an AM (Wales) or an MLA (Northern Ireland). An amendment to permit members of the House of Lords to serve was accepted by the Government (they were originally disqualified). You must be an EU Citizen or a “qualifying” Commonwealth Citizen.

    There will be no requirement on PCCs to be subject to security vetting – either before or after election.

  4. There is no valid argument for the postponement. It is a straight political deal between the Coalition partners, so that the LibDem leadership can claim they achieved a concession from the Conservatives.

  5. If elections aren’t held in tandem with the largely party politicised local council elections that is likely to decrease the initial party politicisation of these police elections.

    Tories like to pronounce that the independents who are Tories in all but name are truly independent & etc. Suchlike will be favoured by the delay.

  6. I was v’ey, v’ey drunk at the time. You made it to the Grauniad (congrats or commiserations?) with tales of 50 copies of the “Racing Post” at New Scotland Yard. Or is it a misprint for “Racist Post”?

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