While the House of Commons was embarking on its second ballot to elect a new Speaker, the House of Lords was debating an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill proposed by Lord Imbert, a former Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis.
The Bill, as drafted, gives the Commissioner a statutory right to be consulted by the Metropolitan Police Authority over any appointment of an Assistant Commissioner, Deputy Assistant Commissioner or Commander. At present these are the prerogative of the Police Authority, although customarily the Commissioner acts as an advisor to the Authority. The Bill’s proposals are sensible and enshrine in law current custom and practice.
Lord Imbert’s amendment, however, went much further. This would have given the power of appointment to the Commissioner, who would in turn be required to consult the Police Authority. A complete reversal of the present practice – effectively side-lining the Authority and moving against the direction of the Bill which gives a greater say to local communities in their policing arrangements.
Lord Imbert (for whom I normally have the highest of respect), in moving the amendment, said that he was moving the amendment with the “full knowledge and support” of the present Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson. (In fact, I understand that the amendment was drafted by Sir Paul’s office in New Scotland Yard and was actively promoted by them.) The implication of this is that Sir Paul does not have confidence in the Police Authority to make such senior appointments properly and to take his views sufficently into account.
Not a happy basis for a relationship with the Police Authority to whom he is accountable.
The amendment itself was withdrawn without being voted upon.