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'Relief' as police authorities are axed

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Police authorities have welcomed the passing of the law which abolishing them, promising to work “tirelessly” to aid a smooth transition in November 2012.

Despite widespread opposition within the police and local government, the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill including its proposal to replace police authorities with elected police commissioners was passed by Parliament this week.

Rob Garnham (Con), chair of the Association of Police Authorities which has opposed the proposal from the start, said: “Our concerns about the new model for police accountability persist, but following the votes in Parliament last night, police authorities will work tirelessly to ensure that the transition to police commissioners is as smooth and as successful as possible.”

Cllr Garnham said concession in the final bill provided a better balance between the powers of the chief constable, police commissioner and commissioner’s panel. Parliamentarians were owed a debt of thanks for working hard “to minimise the potential risks of the new regime”, he said.

A number of other compromises mooted by opponents, such as piloting commissioners before a national roll-out, did not win adequate support.

Peter Conniff, independent chair of Bedforshire Police Authority, said the authority wanted a “seamless” transition which “does not undermine the recent improvements in performance and public satisfaction”.

He added: “The authority is relieved to some extent that this bill has finally been passed as it brings clarity to our future and enables us to focus our energy on preparations for the new system and leave any concerns in the past.”

He welcomed the extra delay after election of police commissioners were moved from May 2012 to November and he called for the government to provide further guidance about the transition over the nexty 12 months.

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