This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

No Mr Hannan, it is not that we disdain democracy...

Daniel Hannan (Tory MEP) published an article in the Telegraph a couple of days ago entitled "Perhaps we secretly disdain democracy" as his commentary on the abysmal turnout in the recent West Midlands PCC by (b'bye?) election. Although it would seem that the original title was "Electing police chiefs was my idea - ouch" as that is the website address. I wonder why the title has been changed from the arguably more honest to the arguably 'disrespectful of the voter' title.

You need to read this article! It is clear that Mr Hannan believes that the fault with PCCs is nothing to do with his pure invention (you need to read his & Douglas Carswell's book: The Plan), but everything to do with the PCCs who "have had next to no impact", the officials who "were bent on their forgettable acronym", the "involvement of political parties" and timing (first November then August). Oh, and Ann Barnes whom he gracefully describes as "hapless, blustering, utterly lacking in self-awareness, the real-life David Brent".

Not me guv... is essentially the real title of the piece.

Oddly perhaps, I have a bit more faith in the British public who are, I believe, choosing not to engage with this democratic mirage because they have recognised this form of governance to be what it really is: risky, ineffectual and inappropriate.

There are some damn fine PCCs who are making their mark and raising issues that had hitherto been left somewhere in the 'to do' list. I commend those PCCs who are struggling with the weight of their role and still managing to influence the future of policing & criminal justice. In this blog post from a few months past, I sought to be balanced in my criticism of the role.

But, the writing must surely now be on the wall for PCCs: people are voting with their feet. And unlike Mr Hannan, I do not see the choice being only between the PCC based model of governance and a return to a police authority type model. There are many other ways to have both democratic accountability and a more solid form of governance that rests less on a single individual.

We have to start now properly debating what model of governance should replace PCCs.

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