Sunday, 18 November 2012

Medway Libdems and the PCC

Ok, I know that this is rather a moot point at the moment as I meant to write this last week before being laid out by man flu.

On Friday 9th November - Yes I know, again, sorry - a letter from the Medway Liberal Democrat's chair, Tony Jeacock was published in the Medway Messenger.

Danger of politicising the Police policy in county.

Cllr Mackinlay states if elected as Police commissioner, he'll take all the salary as he considers it a 24/7 job.

Surely this would mean a by-election in River ward in which he holds a council seat. All six PCC candidates proclaim their independence from party political influence.

Cllr Mackinlay, formerly UKIP, now Conservative, Piers Wauchope formerly Conservative and now UKIP, Steve Uncles an English democrat and Harriet Yeo, life long Labour, while "Independent", Dai Liyanage, a past Libdem, pronounces he has had no political party affiliations for the past two years.

He fails to mention he jumped the Libdem ship before he was pushed because of disloyalry to the party, or that he tried unsuccessfully to get the Libdems to accept him back into the fold during the last six months.

With European Arrest Warrant being a piece of EU Legislation which assisted in catching and arresting dangerous and violent criminals, like Hussain Osman, one of the London bombers, and considering that both UKIP and many Conservative MPs want to opt out of EU measures, it would be worthwhile knowing the position of each candidate on the EAW and whether they would fight to save it.

Libdems in Kent voted against PCCs, as we are against the potential for the Kent Police force becoming politicised and thus distorting policing policy, especially towards the end of the four year term of office when the PCC will be seeking re-election for a further four years.

There was also Cllr Geoff Juby's column in Party People

Role has the power to corrupt.

Whoever thought up the idea of having just one person in charge of a whole police force must have forgotten their history, and the lessons from the past about how total power can corrupt.

The current system of having a police authority overseeing each force may be a quango, something which I normally oppose, but at least it had some elements of democracy and some safeguards. The Police authority is made up of a mix of elected politicians and people from the community so different people can ask whatever questions they like and also request investigations into complaints against the Police.

One person will be expected to cover the work of thirteen people from diverse origin and opinion. I still don't see how it will work or how accountable the system will be. Each council area will appoint Councillors to a "Scrutiny" panel but my experience of scrutiny so far is it has no powers and even fewer teeth!

The Government is pushing the idea of a person independent of political affiliations, a concept which Liberal Democrats locally do agree with and have not fielded a candidate, unlike Conservatives and Labour who have put forward current serving councillors!

What is all important about this new police Commissioner will be his or her integrity. Old fashioned perhaps but in this instance I am hoping that people who go out and vote will put aside political party loyalties, or the natural instinct to vote for a name they recognise, and really research the character and ideas of each candidate before they put a cross on the piece of paper on November 15th

Wise words from both Geoff and Tony on the subject.

As I've said in the past, I like the idealist nature of the Commissioner but in reality I do wonder about the Political nature of the whole thing and whether or not the PCC would listen to party masters on policy and not the people of Kent (All 1.6 million or so).

That's why I voted for Ann Barnes, an Independent.

I personally feel that the campaign was tinged by national politics and a certain amount of scaremongering. 

There was talk on the Twittersphere of voting Labour to stop privatisation of the Police force. If Mackinlay got in surely the Tories would move to privatise certain aspects of the Police force.

I'm not sure that this is possible as surely, Commissioner or no, this sort of decision would have to be taken in Westminster not Maidstone Police HQ. Further to that I haven't seen any evidence to support this theory. That doesn't mean it is not out there, just that I've not found it yet.

It is an easy way to scare people into voting a certain way and is used a lot during National debate and elections. The kind of thing that puts people off politics and may even effect the really low turn out of some 16%!

This is all in the past of course. A PCC has been elected and it is now up to us, and I mean you and I, citizens of Kent, to watch this experiment progress and see what has been put in motion....

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