In a ConDem government move than would further distance policing of Cornwall from the community of the Duchy, the UK Government’s so-called Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill is at the 3rd reading, due by the House of Lords for next Tuesday, 19/07/2011
The Bill :
- replaces police authorities with directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners, with the aim of improving police accountability.
- amends and supplements the Licensing Act 2003 with the intention of ‘rebalancing’ it in favour of local authorities, the police and local communities.
- sets out a new framework for regulating protests around Parliament Square, in London. Relevant sections of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 would be repealed and the police would be given new powers to prevent encampments and the use of amplified noise equipment. [British democracy in action I’m told]
- enables the Home Secretary to temporarily ban drugs for up to a year, and removes the statutory requirement for the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to include members with experience in specified activities
- introduces a new requirement for private prosecutors to obtain the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions prior to the issue of an arrest warrant for ‘universal jurisdiction’ offences such as war crimes or torture. The Government’s aim in introducing this change is to prevent the courts being used for political purposes.
Many of these aims have been challenged and are causing major democratic, community and operational concern.
This is particularly so in Cornwall which also stands to have just one representative on the proposed “police and crime panel” – which will hold the commissioners to account – compared to 11 from Devon and one from the Isles of Scilly (or if promises are to believed at best 3 on a supposed population basis).
It is the only one of the ancient nations of Britain not to have it’s own control of policing in its borders, and is a far cry even from the days of the Cornwall Constabulary prior to 1967, let alone the Borough police of the 1800s. If the Government wants community police oversight perhaps those who say it is time for the Devon & Cornwall Police to be broken up and made more responsive to the Cornish community will have a point.
Certainly if these so-called reforms are passed by the UK Westminster government Cornwall and it’s may seek have an equal say in the operations covering both the Duchy of Cornwall and the County of Devon.
It has now emerged that to add injury to insult Cornwall Council is likely to be asked to organise the election in May next year, and although the £1 million cost should be covered by the UK Government this would divert resources that are needed to service Cornwall’s people.
Cornwall Council member Dick Cole report on 6 September:
At the full meeting of Cornwall Council this morning, councillors voted to strongly assert their anger at the shift towards an elected Police Commissioner for “Devon and Cornwall,” and to not support the Chief Executive becoming the PARO (Police Area Returning Officer) for the Commissioner Elections if they happen next May.
The heart of the motion was to “send a strong cross-party delegation to the Home Secretary to assert stronger Cornish representation in governance, opposition to Devonwall, assessment of the case for a Cornish Commissioner and Police Force, principle of democratic governance and accountability.”
It was also good to see some councillors at the meeting standing tall and demanding action for “our country” or “nation” – and it wasn’t the usual suspects!
The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill is at this date (20/9/11) still before Parliament.
Another related item of interest regarding policing in Cornwall is here: