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Clause 1 — Police and crime commissioners

Part of Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 12th September 2011.

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Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton 7:45 pm, 12th September 2011

I do not disagree with that. The hon. Gentleman makes a clear and explicit point; the point that I was trying to make is that there should not be just one person, who has only one service to think about. That person should also have to engage with the rest of our public services.

Greater Manchester has had an interesting history with its last four chief constables. They have been very different people. James Anderton ran a prejudiced police force. He was openly prejudiced against gay people, while the force that he ran was secretly—although most people knew—prejudiced in a racist kind of way. David Wilmot, who followed, was a very different chief constable who tried to improve relationships with the country. Mike Todd, who followed him, was a different kind of chief constable altogether, and now we have the current one. The interesting point is that the electorate of Greater Manchester have been left out of any of the debates about who their chief constable should be—from the bigot to the effective police officer to the peacemaker—and I do not think that that is a proper process for one of the most important services that is provided locally.

I am sorry, in a way, that I cannot vote with the Government, because there is a powerful argument for improving the accountability of police commissioners and the police service, and I hope that some of the people who have spoken on my side of the House will think a bit harder about some of those democratic arguments. Unfortunately, however, the Bill is seriously flawed, and I wish that the Government would go back and think again.