If you read that headline in the lead up to the elections in 2012 you would be right to be incredulous.
It would be inconceivable for a serious candidate to not have a position on one of the top issues affecting Londoners. The Mayor wasn’t confident that the former Commissioner of the Met was giving crime fighting enough of a priority which is why we now have a Commissioner that takes crime fighting very seriously. Make no mistake, Sir Paul Stephenson runs the Met but does so in a way which addresses the priorities of Londoners rather than the Home Office.
Yet in most of the country there is no mechanism to ensure the police force stay focused on the needs of local people.
There really are only two questions that need to be asked with regard to policing in the UK, firstly; Would you be happy with a police force accountable to no one? I assume that the vast majority of people would say “no”. This leads on to the second question; “To whom should the police be accountable? I strongly believe that the police should be accountable to the people that they serve rather than a (physically and metaphorically) distant government department.
When you hear that the police don’t want “political control” think about what that means. No one is advocating politicians making the operational decisions but if politicians shouldn’t have overall responsibility for the police then who should?
The new proposals outlined by Teresa May today represent a huge step towards the police being accountable to the local people in the area they serve.