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Should police commissioners be elected?

Police chiefs in England and Wales may quit if a Conservative government forced directly elected commissioners on them, Sir Hugh Orde has said. What is your reaction?

The Tories say police commissioners should answer to local people rather than the home secretary and have outlined plans for commissioners to be civilians who have power over police staffing, budgets and priorities.

But Sir Hugh, head of the chief constables' association, told the BBC police independence was "absolutely critical" and said any idea the police were under "political influence" could undermine democracy.

Should police commissioners be elected officials? Would you vote for a police commissioner? What impact would this have on policing?

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Published: Friday, 20 November, 2009, 16:17 GMT 16:17 UK

All comments as they come in

Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 23:35 GMT 23:35 UK

The elected chiefs would be a disaster. I am a Tory voter but vehemently opposed to them interfering by elections.
A chief should be drawn from the ranks and earn his place.
.
However, that does not mean to say all Chiefs are brilliant. Most senior police officers are today, merely puppets of the establishment anyway and most just cow-tow to their whims and fancies instead of standing up for good honest policing and cutting back on paperwork to reintroduce officer discretion.

[mickthewhite]

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 23:32 GMT 23:32 UK

"The police are meant to uphold the law - and should be accountable to Parliament - but electing local commissioners will just pander to uninformed public opinion.

[mcclure1], UK"

Unfortunately, in Labour Britain, the "uninformed public" as you put it has a much greater experience of crime than those supposed intellectuals who live in ivory towers. They probably have better ideas about what should be done about crime too. This is a great idea. If you don't like democracy, move to China.

[SaxonHero], Lancashire, England

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 23:19 GMT 23:19 UK

We already elect MPs to represent us.
How many people can honestly say they feel their MP truly represents their views in parliament?

Why do people think an elected policeman would be any more accountable than an elected MP?

Wumpus, Liverpool

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 22:30 GMT 22:30 UK

I think that the metropolitan police should elect the commissioner.
Why waste public money and time on elections for a position where most people don't even know the function. The police see what is going on every day and are clearly intelligent enough to know what is best to help them get the job done.
Please people, let's not turn every aspect of public duties into bureaucracy.

Gibson, London

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 22:25 GMT 22:25 UK

If the current bunch of unimaginative politically correct carreerists running the UK police forces are going to resign if this idea is introduced then my reaction would be 'Great, bring it on!'. Democratic control of police priorities at a local level is far better than having them set by Home Office bureaucrats wanting to curry favour with the government,whose priorities bear no resemblance to people's wishes.An idea whose time has come, how about restoring control over the Bank of England too?

Mark Solomon, Alicante, Spain

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 22:22 GMT 22:22 UK

Like all the best revolutionary ideas,this is simple,democratic and opposed by the politically correct elite currently running the show.Given the way chief police officers have been politically appointed by the Home Office and police priorities distorted by Labour, I cannot see how anyone could argue this would be worse than the current position.With this reform police officers would be catching burglars and muggers,not persecuting motorists and chasing imaginary hate/thought crimes.Great idea.

Mark Solomon, Alicante, Spain

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 22:18 GMT 22:18 UK

What would we want from our elected Police Commissioners? To be morally upright. To tell the truth. To be competent at their job.

The same things we expected from our elected MP's. What we elected in reality was 646 swindlers, liars and fools.

With that track record we should not be electing anyone into a position of power.

[billyhano], United Kingdom

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 21:50 GMT 21:50 UK

ACPO surrendered the operational independence of Chief Constables years ago. The likes of Ian Blair, Hugh Orde et al are responsible and for Orde to suggest that the Conservatives' plan changes anything in terms of the politicisation of the police is laughable. ACPO and the Home Office have been cosy bedfellows for too long - bring on the changes and let local people regain control of policing priorities.

[Hiwilawonga], Bury, United Kingdom

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 21:41 GMT 21:41 UK

I hope several police chiefs DO quit when the Conservatives come to power (actually I'd like them to quit NOW!) It's a bit rich for Labour stooges like Ian Blair & Hugh Orde to dribble on about political independance when under their leadership, the police have been anything BUT politically independant.

They have enjoyed being Labout lap dogs, now they must pay the price. Serves them right.

George Miller, Basingstoke, United Kingdom

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 21:07 GMT 21:07 UK

This will never work.

If there's local accountability they may actually have to deal with real crime. They'll have no time to shake down the taxpayers with petty fines.

Keep the power centralized in Westminster. Let your betters decide.

It's best

Patrick Powell, San Jose

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 21:04 GMT 21:04 UK

Sir Hugh Orde should be well used to commissioners, having been under a police commision etc with the PSNI or maybe this is the real reason he left the job.

Richard strain, United Kingdom

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 20:59 GMT 20:59 UK

Anything that make people in high office accountable to their bosses (the public) can only be a good thing, no more jobs for the boys and its who you know not what you know selections.

Steve K

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 20:54 GMT 20:54 UK

Yes
So should bosses of industry, bankers, everyone with executive power that affects the lives of other people.
That's democracy, government of the people, for the people, by the people.
Policing is political.
But law is there to protect the power of wealth, to keep those in power in it.
The democracy we have is a farce, it can't challenge the power of the rich
So seriously, voting for chief constables wouldn't change the fundamental injustice and inequality at the heart of our society

[sack_the_bosses], France

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 20:48 GMT 20:48 UK

Will it make any different to the crime levels if we did?, most people just want less red tape and more police on the streets who are willing to arrest the dross we have blighting all our lives instead of acting like some sort of social worker as they do now.

Nicelobon Winit, Wallingford

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Added: Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 20:48 GMT 20:48 UK

Never should a Police chief be elected, there is already to much influence by groups like most men only clubs. What would they do if someone got in who had not declared his real views and started changing things immediately it would not be so easy to get him/her out if it meant another election.

Margaret Hart, Redcar, United Kingdom

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