Police chiefs have labelled the Government’s plan to give the public more say over policing ‘perverse’ and dangerous, leaked papers revealed last night.This seems to be ACPO firing a warning shot, via the media.
The document risks igniting a ferocious row between the Association of Chief Police Officers and ministers.Good! Here’s hoping ACPO doesn’t chicken out or back down. Because they need to lose, and lose hard…
Police are not supposed to enter into contentious political areas, such as the debate over whether to introduce directly elected commissioners.Make them public by all means. If you think the public will take your side, you’ve finally – and I hope fatally – misjudged the situation.
But Sir Hugh Orde, president of ACPO, is warning that it will make public its views over the alleged risk that the flagship Tory policy poses to the public.
ACPO fears that commissioners might focus only on the local priorities needed to get them re-elected - to the detriment of nationwide duties to fight terrorism and organised crime.Which would be laughable if not for the fact that criminals and sex offenders are already making up the ranks.
The leaked papers also include a claim by ACPO that criminals and even sex offenders could be elected by the public.
Eh, Sir Hugh?
And also, this outpouring of concern for the public rings a little hollow, when it is immediately apparent that what has prompted this is concern for your own necks:
The key demand in the document, passed to the Mail, is for the Coalition to make it far harder for the elected commissioners to sack failing chief constables. Ministers consider the right for elected commissioners to hire and fire chief officers as crucial to making the service more accountable to the public.You snivelling little worm!
But ACPO is insisting there must be a legal duty on the commissioner to seek clearance from Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary.
I hope Nick Herbert tells you ‘Publish and be damned!’:
The document has been sent to police minister Nick Herbert, with a covering letter. In this, Sir Hugh says he is prepared to go public with his warnings by sending the document to a committee of MPs. It then goes on to say that - before he does so - he ‘would welcome the opportunity’ to first discuss it with ministers.Is this the sound of ACPO finally shooting themselves in both feet? I do hope so…
The Home Office is likely to view this as a warning that - if a meeting tomorrow between Sir Hugh and Mr Herbert does not go well – the document will be published.
Last night, ACPO insisted that it was not entering into political debate, but had a duty to take part in discussions over the future of the police service.Work for whom..? Not, I suspect, for us. We are expected to just pay for you, and keep our mouths shut.
Officials said they had stressed repeatedly their commitment to making the government’s policing reforms work.
Not any more.
Don’t screw this one up, iDave.