THE police and crime commissioner for Sussex has come out fighting after a high-profile report suggested her role should be scrapped.
Former Met Police commissioner Lord Stevens compiled the report on the effectiveness of the modern police structure for Labour and among a raft of attention-grabbing details was the recommendation that police and crime commissioners (PCC) be axed in 2016.
Lord Stevens’ review criticised the PCC model as having ‘fatal systematic flaws’ and said more power should instead be given to local councillors and authorities.
However, Katy Bourne, the current PCC for Sussex, dismissed the findings and said it had overlooked a host of successes she and her counterparts elsewhere in the country had enjoyed since PCC elections last year.
She said: “What the report fails to recognise is the strengths of PCCs and some of the very good work that has been carried out across the political divide just 12 months into what is a brand new role.
“One of the most important and unprecedented roles of PCCs is to hold chief constables to account on behalf of the public yet there is no mention of this in Lord Steven’s report, which I find astounding.
“In Sussex I hold monthly accountability meetings with the chief constable, which are webcast live. One of these meetings specifically focused on the policing operation in response to the protest against test-drilling in Balcombe and this effective form of scrutiny has been recognised nationally by the policing minister.
“The report suggests a return to local authority structures but I think this approach is naïve as this is not a way of moving forward.
“PCCs are responsive and a local authority structure isn’t flexible enough to address the tension between local issues and some very complex regional and national needs, such as counter terrorism and public order, which the police have an obligation to meet.
“PCCs have the ability to work across multiple force areas, as I am doing here in Sussex, with some of the changes proposed within the probation service.
“Also, since the two PCCs have been introduced in Surrey and Sussex we are working together much more effectively and we will continue to drive further collaboration between both police forces. For the first time ever PCCs are directly commissioning services that are tailored to local needs rather than via committees with their endless bureaucracy and lack of decision-making, which we often witnessed under the previous Police Authority model.”
Mrs Bourne, who was the Conservative candidate during last year’s county-wide vote, landed the £85,000-a-year job on a count of second preference votes after neither she, nor her main rival Labour’s Godfrey Daniel, polled more than the 50 per cent needed for success. The voting turn-out was just 15.82 per cent.
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