Yesterday, the Lords defeated a Coalition Government flagship policy to create elected Police Commissioners, which would effectively replace the current Police Authorities. Although this is not the end of the matter as the legislation will just go back to the Commons for the Government to have another go.
But whilst we wait to see if the Commons will make any concessions, I have to say I pretty much agree with the Liberal Democrat peers and the cross-benchers who tabled the amendment to defeat the plan. I can see the logic: the Government wants to make the police more accountable by introducing greater democracy. The problem with this is democracy is the least worst political system there is, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, and it needs to be weilded with care. Too much democracy can be a bad thing in the wrong hands.
Centering the democratic accountability on one individual, which would happen with directly elected Police Commissioners, does put too much power in one person’s hands which is counterproductive to good democracy. And I certainly do not wish to see the police politicised more than they currently are.
I shall reserve judgement on this policy until after the Government responds to the Lords defeat but I personally cannot see what is so wrong with the current Police Authority model which has multiple councillors on its board and not only holds the police to account but also keeps councillors’ power in close check as well.