On the 15th of November Police and Crime Commissioners will be elected for 41 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales.
On the 16th of November the government will hold a party to celebrate the fact that they now have individuals they can blame for absolutely everything that is crime related.
No more will we be able to point the finger at the Home Office for rising crime, falling detection rates, less police on the streets, the privatisation of policing, anti social behaviour, drugs problems, court problems, victim problems etc.
You name it your local PCC will be to blame.
It’s a brilliant ploy at a time when the government will need to distance themselves from the changes they are introducing and the consequences that will inevitably result.
It is reported that crime has fallen in recent years following increases in police numbers and economic prosperity and almost inevitably it will rise following falls in police numbers and decreasing economic prosperity. There is always a lag between cause and effect and the government are reaping the benefits of the increases and are about to jump the responsibility ship before the detrimental effects of their policies become reality.
The adverts and much of the publicity have focused on the PCC’s role in terms of the police i.e. hiring and firing chief constables, setting the budget, and producing the policing plan. They also have a much wider remit which includes “addressing levels of antisocial behaviour, reducing numbers of victims, and generally improving public confidence in criminal justice agencies and feelings of safety”. See the Criminal Justice Alliance PCC briefing for further details.
While I do not think that PCC’s were introduced solely for this purpose they will provide a convenient deflector shield for the government who will still pass the laws and provide much of the money for fighting crime but will be able to point at PCC’s and state that they are responsible for the way policing and crime reduction is tackled on a local basis.
We can only wait and see whether PCC’s do indeed become the Governments Hadrian’s wall against complaints about crime and policing.
Come the next election the government will either deflect blame for all things crime related onto the democratically elected PCC’s or if crime has fallen they will claim success for introducing PCC’s.
Something of a win win situation for them and a win lose situation for PCC’s!