Police (Justice Commissioners)

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 3:34 pm on 11th November 2008.

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Photo of Douglas Carswell Douglas Carswell Conservative, Harwich 3:34 pm, 11th November 2008

However, better that we have a Rudy Giuliani or a Ray Mallon—or a Sarah Palin—than another Sir Ian Blair.

Others oppose the idea on the grounds that it would lead to postcode lottery policing, but that is nonsense. Postcode lottery policing is precisely what we have today. If random chance meant that people happened to have a chief constable who thought it was okay to smoke cannabis, what could they do about it? If luck had it that a person's chief of police believed that speed cameras were a good thing and that person did not, there would be little point in their complaining. Localism in policing means accepting that there would be local asymmetries, but there would be nothing random—no lottery—about it. Differences would be shaped consciously by local choices. For example, the justice commissioner of Essex might well endorse a zero-tolerance attitude to drunken public disorder behaviour problems, whereas the justice commissioner for Suffolk favoured toleration. One of two things would then happen: either Essex stag parties would flood across the county border in such numbers that the people of Suffolk would elect a tougher justice commissioner, or the good people of Essex would demand a justice commissioner who took a more relaxed approach to boisterous nights out. We Westminster politicians do not know what people would choose, and that is the essence of localism.

When I published a book calling for direct democratic policing in 2002, a Member of Parliament told me that my proposal was profoundly unConservative. Indeed it is—and so, in a sense, am I. We can do better than the status quo. Members from both sides of the House are sponsoring this Bill and I hope that hon. Members from all parties will now back it.

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