Councillor hits out at latest police proposals

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POLICING in 1066 Country will suffer under new Government plans to introduce elected police commissioners, it has been claimed.

Cllr Godfrey Daniel, a member of the Sussex Police Authority (SPA) has hit out at Home Secretary Theresa May’s new Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill.

If it becomes law, police authorities will be scrapped in 2012 and residents will vote for commissioners to oversee local police forces.

Policing minister Nick Herbert has called police authorities “weak and invisible” while Mrs May said: “These new measures will place the public back at the heart of our drive to cut crime, giving them a say in how their local area is policed and strengthening the powers that police and councils need to tackle crime and disorder at a local level.

“For too long, the fight against crime has been tangled up in a web of centrally imposed red tape that has driven a wedge between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

“I am determined to re-balance that by giving the public and the police and councils the powers they need to deal with the issues that blight too many of our communities.”

Police commissioners are elected in the USA, but Cllr Daniel said the Coalition Government was focusing on the wrong priorities, with Sussex Police facing £52 million cuts over the next five years.

He said: “It seems remarkably strange in these financially tightened times that the Government is happy to spend what could be £1 million on an election.

“I would much rather that money was spent on providing police officers.

“The danger is that the process of electing a commissioner could become a circus and policing will become more political.

“I am a political animal but I am not a great believer in political influence in policing.”

Reacting to Mr Herbert’s comments, Cllr Daniel said: “We are not here for visibility - we are not on The X Factor.

“We do a very worthwhile job supporting the police and although it is not high-profile it is very important.”