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Councillors squabble over police proposals

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A split has emerged between councillors opposed to the government’s proposed reforms of police accountability.

The body representing police authorities dismissed the Local Government Association’s (LGA) call for councillors to be responsible for oversight.

Rob Garnham (Con), chairman of the Association of Police Authorities, warned that policing would once again become “embroiled in town hall politics”.

In a stinging riposte, LGA vice-chairman Richard Kemp (Lib) used his twitter account to claim that the APA “are as much use as a chocolate fire guard”.

The row began earlier this week, when the LGA continued its campaign against the government’s proposal for a directly elected individual to replace police authorities by setting out how council-appointed ‘police champions’ could revitalise public engagement with the police in a more cost-effective way.

But Cllr Garnham, left, said there was no way he could support the LGA’s proposal. “It is a fallacy to suggest that returning policing to the oversight of local councils would mean greater accountability for local people,” he said.

“This has been tried before and it did not work, which is why police authorities were created as separate bodies in the mid-nineties to ensure that police were accountable to local people.  Communities, police and government did not benefit when the policing service was embroiled in town-hall politics.”

He added: “Locally elected councillors are already at the heart of the governance system and they form the majority of members on all police authorities.” The LGA’s proposal was, he said, “a modified model of an existing police authority but without the skills and expertise that our independent members currently bring, and without the added benefits and reduced bureaucracy that independent police authorities currently provide”.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The reason that the separate police authorities were created was not because the previous system did not work, but because the Conservative Government at the time was ideologically opposed to Labour controlled authorities having oversight of policing in the shires at a time when the conservatives had (temporarily) lost their stranglehold on the shire counties.

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