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Sunday, 26 October 2014

To vote or not to vote – a tough question

IT’S a toughie. For the first time in my adult life, I’m wondering whether I should use my vote.

EM Anne Pickles
Anne Pickles

Elections for new police and crime commissioners across England and Wales are imminent – just a few days away now. And I still can’t say, with conviction, how I will vote or even if my convictions will allow me to vote for a system about which I have grave misgivings.

So, there’s a funny thing – for a woman who can bore for her country about suffragettes, sacrifice, railings and race horses.

The very idea of failing to fully embrace democratic privilege at the polling station has always been anathema to me. Inconceivable.

But when something kicks in to make a wholehearted democrat want to rail against the democratic process, I have to wonder... did I turn my face from democracy or did it turn its face from me?

Voting cards on the table – I really don’t like being asked to vote on party political lines on how the police are policed. Long years of disappointment in the party system (if we’re calling a spade a spade, maybe it’s age) have left me exasperated and frequently angry with political insistence on having to take a side, rather than look for the best we can be.

The very idea of one politically impassioned commissioner imposing his or her prejudices when hiring, firing, monitoring and controlling those who lead our police services is one I find depressing and more than a little scary.

They have police commissioners in America. But I don’t find crime rates there particularly reassuring. They have them in the Metropolitan Police – and the least said about that force’s track record, the better.

Since my trust in politicians and their promises wore worryingly thin a long time ago, I don’t believe a commissioner system will be cheaper, more efficient, cleaner or more professional than the police authorities that went before. And I can see no good reason for imposing a new hierarchy, when the old one could have been built on and improved – should improvement have been necessary.

So what’s a girl to do, when presented with such a toughie? Does she vote for a whole new process of control in which she has no faith? Does she withhold her vote and allow some individual with – at best – a flimsy but nonetheless politically rubber-stamped mandate to grab power?

Flummoxed, and no mistake. But perhaps open to persuasion, should anyone have the answers I seek. They’ll need to come quickly though... only nine days to go.

Have your say

Plenty of hot air, but no-one has explained how it will be an improvement on the existing system.

Posted by Ian Bird on 8 November 2012 at 16:53

In the debates on Tuesday Pru Jupe stated that she wanted qualified officers out on the beat not behind a desk. If you are not qualified you are not a police officer. Sadly some desk jobs need to be done, if the person doing the job is removed from the pose then who will do it?
Te Labour candidate states that he wants different policies for different areas, so police will arrest in one part of Cumbria for an offence and not in another part?
The PCC will have NO impact on operational policing they will not be able to tell a police officer of any rank to arrest anyone, record a particular crime or indeed do anything at all. They will set the general direction and force priorities but how these are enforced is down to the police.
In fact even the Chief Constable cant tell an officer to arrest someone, it is down to the individual officer concerned to form the opinion.

Posted by R Peel on 8 November 2012 at 16:35

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