You should stand for Police & Crime Commissioner

 

Next May, the entire United Kingdom will vote. It will be the first national election since the General Election and will be seen as a test of all parties one year into the new parliament.

Police & Crime Commissioner elections will take place in England & Wales, on the same day as devolved elections.

If you care about human rights, as Liberal Democrats do, policing is where human rights come into sharp focus. No other civilian agency in entrusted with powers so affecting liberty and so at risk of political demands based on popular misunderstanding. Policing needs checks and balances from a liberal point of view, and strategy founded on evidence.

The Commissioner sets policing strategy and holds chief officers to account.  This includes how the force is:

  • Using surveillance and undercover officers;
  • Policing protests and demonstrations;
  • Ensuring that citizens from minority groups are treated fairly; and
  • Deciding which types of offence to prioritise resources on.

England and Wales have 43 police authorities, which typically cover one or two counties each.  In Greater London the Mayor is Commissioner for the City of London and Metropolitan police forces. It is expected that a new Mayor will be Greater Manchester’s Commissioner.

Four police authorities are in Wales and I cannot speak for the position of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. However, at this summer’s meeting of the English Liberal Democrats’ Council, representatives were strongly in favour of Liberal Democrats standing in our 36 police authority areas.  Fighting the election was also endorsed by Federal Executive.

Police & Crime Commissioner elections are by Supplementary Vote (voters indicate 1st and 2nd preferences), so anywhere we can come second under first-past-the-post could be very interesting.

In 2012 the elections attracted a fair amount of local media coverage, so even if not elected it could be a useful boost for a candidate ahead of 2017 county council elections.

England needs 36 Liberal Democrat candidates for Police and Crime Commissioner. Everyone reading this will know people who would make excellent candidates.  Please encourage them to stand.

 

* Antony Hook is a Liberal Democrat MEP for South East England and has practised as a barrister since 2003.

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This entry was posted in Campaign Corner.
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23 Comments

  • Barry Holliday 3rd Aug '15 - 1:02pm

    Who’s funding the 5k deposit that in non target areas we’ll probably loose?

    Local parties in non target areas can not afford this unless central party is going to fund it?

  • suggest Barry, that you lead the development of your area in membership and fundraising…but I would agree that some central monies will be needed

  • George Potter 3rd Aug '15 - 2:30pm

    You only need 5% of what will be a low turnout to save your deposit – some areas will need help but most places should reasonably be able to keep their deposit.

  • George, 5% is quite a lot these days!

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Aug '15 - 4:52pm

    Antony, When is the EU referendum likely to be?

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 3rd Aug '15 - 6:08pm

    Richard,

    Downing Street are briefing June 2016 to journalists. Cameron likely to formally announce a date at Tory Conference in Oct.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 3rd Aug '15 - 7:39pm

    We didn’t lose any deposits the last time and this is a great opportunity to motivate members and rebuild our reputation with our supporters with a proper liberal campaign on proper liberal issues.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Aug '15 - 8:26pm

    Antony, Thank you.

    Caron. Last time we did not lose deposits in places where we did not run candidates. In Kent an independent was elected.

  • I dont believe that police comissioners should be elected so why on earth would I stand? I want someone who knows policing and how to run a large organisation, why support a process that delivers up washed up political rejects who couldnt run a tap.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Aug '15 - 9:22pm

    We do have someone who can do this job, Brian Paddick was a senior police officer.
    The police authority in London was devolved to the Mayor by a New Labour government.
    We have recently been told, openly, in one area, not to expect police to call if there is a burglary.
    That would not be popular with voters.
    Some years ago burglars broke into our house and stole a TV and video recorder.
    On Monday morning they ‘phoned to say they had confessions.
    When I say this police say “Oh! You are the one !”.
    The equipment was kept as evidencc for several months, so we needed another TV.

  • A Social Liberal 3rd Aug '15 - 11:10pm

    It has always been considered against the interests of the country to have police forces held to account by a single person, and one who was renumerated so handsomely for doing so. Why then, if we haven’t as a party changed our position on this, are some advocating we stand candidates for election as police commissioners?

  • Alistair – I absolutely agree with you. I think it is appalling that so many party members are going along with this pretty illiberal politicised police system. The only thing I would add is that quite a few are police rejects or has beens, as well as the “political rejects” you mention.

  • I think if there’s an election, a Lib dem ought to stand in it, in the case of the police and crime commissioner with the explicit manifesto of immediately devolving all his/her powers should they get elected. Of course, I don’t have five grand, so…

  • Teresa La Thangue 4th Aug '15 - 9:28am

    The Mayor of London is not the Police and Crime commissioner for the City of London Police. The City of London Police doesn’t have a PCC, it’s police authority is the City of London Corporation.

  • Denis Loretto 4th Aug '15 - 9:54am

    The difference between this time and our somewhat confused (to say the least) consideration of this issue last time is that there is now actual experience of the contribution and/or drawbacks of the system and the incumbency of those who were elected. Has anyone done any study or research on this? No doubt both pluses and minuses will have emerged. Do the pluses outweigh the minuses? Surely we need to know something on these lines before deciding whether to put forward candidates on one hand or campaign (backed up by evidence) against the concept and advocate sensible alternatives on the other hand.

  • It’s not about winning, is it? It’s about finding out exactly how badly the Liberal Democrats are doing, and in what areas.

    You expect to lose all your deposits, but the information gained might be helpful in planning.

    It’s like in poker, when you know you’re beaten but you pay £21,500 to see exactly how badly you’re beaten, in the hope that the information gained will help you in future hands.

    Don’t think of it as an election you’re trying to win, it isn’t and you won’t, just think of it as a big opinion poll that you’re paying for.

  • Sadie Smith 4th Aug '15 - 11:30am

    It can be seen in the ‘pick a ward’ light. Though usually more than one ward.
    There are one or two high profile people who could do it in my area. Several could do the job should the electorate vote that way.
    It is not the easiest start in Met areas.

  • The electorate are not at all engaged with Police Commissioner elections… I suspect <1% actually take the trouble to find out what all the candidates say they would do. So they will vote on Party lines (like the Euro elections), or for an independent (because they don't like party politics) or they might vote for someone who gets in the local papers a lot or is a popular local councillor or ppc.

    Refusing to stand on principle might be quite a good ploy. It would be more likely to generate local press stories than actually standing. Local election leaflets could include a box saying why we were not standing rather than a box about our no-hope candidate that everyone will ignore. And it will probably save a load of deposits, because last time we only stood in the better places and still came close to losing the deposit in several. (if we can claw our way back to 12% in the polls we may not lose any deposits).

    Is anyone really going to deliver even one leaflet just on a Police Commissioner election? Where there are already local elections I suspect not. The money and effort would be better spent on an extra local election leaflet that might get a candidate over the line. Maybe there are some places where we are strong and where there are no local elections, mayoral elections, GLC elections etc where we might actually campaign for a Police Commissioner, but otherwise the most will be a box on a local election leaflet. As I say above, that box would probably have more effect saying why we are NOT standing. And wherever there are local elections then the argument "give people as chance to vote Liberal Democrat" does not have much weight, except where we are so weak that we do not put up candidates (which we should be trying to do something about…)

  • Do it properly or don’t do it at all.

    If the Liberal Democrats stand in any sort of election they should campaign and fight.. In the Police Commissioner elections, which are a waste of time and money, I tend to agree with Andrew when he says not to stand on principle is a good ploy.

    In local council by-elections just to put a token name on the ballot paper “to give the electors the opportunity to vote Liberal Democrat” and just to get barely double figures is completely daft and counter productive. When you see an ALDC by-election result with a bare handful of votes it indicates to me that no one has made any effort – so why should the electorate make any effort ? – The result is dispiriting to the few who did vote Lib Dem.

  • Denis Loretto 4th Aug '15 - 6:03pm

    No-one has come up with any reply to my query raised at 9.54 this morning – “there is now actual experience of the contribution and/or drawbacks of the system and the incumbency of those who were elected. Has anyone done any study or research on this? No doubt both pluses and minuses will have emerged. Do the pluses outweigh the minuses?”

    Antony – you know all about the shenanigans we went through in Surrey, when I was in Mole Valley. We ended up putting up a perfectly viable candidate, came last and only just saved our deposit. Independent ex policeman Kevin Hurley was elected. Has he done any good? Is there any evidence that his presence as PCC has achieved any progress? What would be the basis for a Lib Dem campaign against him, assuming he stands for re-election? These are among the factors we need to consider, rather than just putting up a candidate for the sake of having Lib Dem on the ballot paper.

  • Richard Underhill 5th Aug '15 - 5:31pm

    Dav 4th Aug ’15 – 10:16am It should not be about winning, it should be about good governance.
    Denis Loretto 4th Aug ’15 – 6:03pm In Kent we have an independent PCC who was part of the previous system. She says the main difference is more visibility. she is not a party hack, but has not handled her publicity well. In the process she has exposed the situation that PCCs are in. They should be abolished.

  • Paul Kennedy 5th Aug '15 - 6:04pm

    Denis, I think experience has confirmed our view that PCCs should be abolished, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stand for the post given that they clearly won’t be abolished until 2020.

    The decision whether to stand a candidate, back an independent candidate, or ignore the election altogether probably depends on local circumstances in the county involved. Is there a case for leaving the decision whether to stand a candidate at all to local members ? Perhaps at the same time as they vote for candidates and (or perhaps in place of) RON as part of the selection process?

    PS I’d be interested in your views on Surrey which are probably best discussed offline. You can find my contact details on http://www.mvld.org.uk.

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