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Directly elected commissioners means criminals free to run police forces

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: January 17, 2011

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Controversial new police and crime commissioners will be able to stand for election even if they have criminal convictions, it has emerged.

There has been widespread criticism, on a number of grounds, of the Government's plans to introduce directly elected commissioners in May 2012.

The one-off election alone will cost Westcountry taxpayers nearly £2 million – the equivalent of 50 police constables – and £350,000 more than the annual budget of the scrapped police authority.

Fears have also been raised that Cornwall will be disenfranchised, because two thirds of the overall electorate lives in Devon where local council elections are also likely to be held on the same day.

It has now emerged that the new police and crime commissioners (PCCs) will not be vetted, meaning those with criminal convictions could be elected and ultimately have access to highly-sensitive information.

"We do not believe that a vetting process is appropriate in these circumstances as it would cut across the citizen's right to stand for election," the Home Office said. "The people must make these judgments. We are clear that PCCs and forces will need to agree on the handling of sensitive information to support the ability of the elected PCC to hold their chief constable to account and explain and defend the force's actions to local communities.

"However, we will put in place measures to ensure that PCCs are fully aware of their obligations to protect any intelligence and security information or material that they may come into contact with."

There is also no current provision to deal with commissioners who are convicted of an offence during their term of office. Critics said it was a symptom of an ill-thought-out policy which was being rushed through.

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  • parrot123  |  June 10 2011, 2:37AM

    What`s the problem They are already here. The government is full of them. As we have already found out. Snouts in the trough. And if you get caught you will receive a sentance of under six months,so you can get back there again. Long live the revelution

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    Mike Hunt, St Awfull  |  January 17 2011, 8:11PM

    Lord Archer !!! if we can let him continue then whats wrong with having criminals in the police force. We do allready.

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    TimV, Pz  |  January 17 2011, 3:33PM

    The public is crying out for true accountability and impartiality, not ill- thought-out political gestures. The only working model is in and through the local authority, linked to public transparency. In education, health and policing policy, the public want sensible evolution to improve efficiency and raise standards, not dogma-propelled revolution.

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    David, St Austell  |  January 17 2011, 3:02PM

    ""We do not believe that a vetting process is appropriate in these circumstances as it would cut across the citizen's right to stand for election," I'm sorry but for such an important post vetting is absolutely essential. What on earth are the Home Office thinking of making such a statement? While I think the whole process is a waste of time and money if it's going to be done it should be done properly.