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Labour 'would scrap PCCs to fund halt of refuge closures'

Labour would reverse cuts to the police planned for next year if it wins power in May, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has said.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper addresses delegates on the last day of the Labour Party conference in Manchester. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The party would also scrap police and crime commissioners (PCC) to pay to protect women's refuges.

In every part of the country refuges and services for women and children suffering from domestic violence are being closed due to the callous attitude of this Government.

Theresa May's failure to act means victims are being left with no support and being abandoned.

Refuges provide vital support for women and children. Local specialist services that have a track record of successfully helping women and children need our support and that's what we will do.

– Yvette Cooper

Liberty: PCCs were a 'very dangerous development'

The director of civil rights lobby group Liberty said she was "delighted" that Labour pledged to scrap Police and Crime Commissioners, saying they were always a "very dangerous development".

This was always a very dangerous development from a rule of law point of view, because you directly elect a charismatic individual politician to boss the chief constable around, to hire and fire the chief constable and to meddle in operational policing.

We have seen power being used to influence chief constables, their contracts not being renewed for a long time, we've seen scandals and corruption and I think partly that's why this experiment has now failed.

It wasn't just a failed experiment, it was wrong in principle - democracy cannot exist without the rule of law, and that means independent judges and chief constables.

– Shami Chakrabarti, the director of civil rights lobby group Liberty, speaking on the Sky News' Murnaghan programme

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Labour: We will replace Police Commissioners

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has said a Labour government would abolish Police and Crime Commissioners and give local communities a "policing contract" to enforce priorities like keeping police on the beat.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The model is just fundamentally flawed. It's costing too much. They spent £80 million on the original elections. It will cost £50 million to hold the next elections. It cost £3.7 million to hold the by-election in the West Midlands.

There should be a policing contract with the local community, involving councillors but also giving the public direct access in public meetings

The council and the chief constable should be jointly appointing the local police commander.

– Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper

Speaking at the start of Labour's annual conference in Manchester, Ms Cooper said that the coalition Government's introduction of directly-elected PCCs in 2012 "hasn't worked" and that scrapping the next round of PCC elections in 2016 would save £50 million which could be ploughed back into frontline policing. .

Speed awareness course for Police Commissioner

Matthew Grove (left) defeated Lord Prescott (right) in elections for the post last year Credit: PA

The police and crime commissioner for Humberside, Matthew Grove, is to go on a speed awareness course after breaking the law in his car.

Mr Grove was recorded driving at 36mph in a 30mph zone on the Peaks Parkway in Grimsby in October.

He was offered the opportunity of a speed awareness course as an alternative to prosecution for a motoring offence.

Mr Grove said he "welcomed" the opportunity to go on the course and "reflect on my standard of driving."

He was elected to the £75,000 a year post last November as the Conservative Party candidate after narrowly beating Labour's Lord Prescott.

Justice system should 'look outwards'

The justice system should "look outwards" to the citizens it serves, said the author of a report arguing for PCCs to have more power. Max Chambers said:

Currently, PCCs are operating with one arm tied behind their back...That includes the ability to appoint the right people as well as set the local strategy and hold criminal justice leaders to account for performance.

Our ambition is for a system where, instead of local criminal justice leaders looking upwards and inwards to Whitehall for direction and validation, they increasingly look outwards to each other and downwards to the citizens they serve.

– Report Author Max Chambers

PCCs introduced in 2012 to make forces accountable

Controversial Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were introduced to make forces more accountable.

  • PCCs were brought in last year after only 15.1 percent of registered voters took part in the elections.
  • They have the power to set force budgets and hire and fire chief constables.
  • Last month the Home Affairs Select Committee warned that checks and balances on PCCs were "too weak" after raising concerns that those elected to the role were showing a "worrying" ability to evade rules when sacking chief constables.

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PCCs should have more powers, say think tank

PCCs should have the power to hire and fire prison governors and inspect police, says Policy Exchange. Credit: PA

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) should have the power to hire and fire prison governors and probation chiefs, according to a leading think tank.

More powers should be given to PCCs as limits on their current remit mean 41 of them are "operating with one arm tied behind their back", say Policy Exchange.

If proposals from the think tank's report, Power Down, were implemented PCCs would have the power to appoint local justice figures as well as order prison and police force inspections.

Policy Exchange, which claims it was the organisation which first proposed the idea of PCCs, argues expanding the role will make the justice system cheaper, more effective and more dynamic.

Police Commissioners 'welcome transparency'

Tony Lloyd, the Chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, has welcomed calls for greater transparency in their relationships with Chief Constables and says that the "vast majority" have "developed a strong and purposeful" relationship.

Police on patrol

"Commissioners are mindful that a good working relationship with their Chief Constable is good for force morale and will contribute to better decision-making," he said.

"The public elected Police and Crime Commissioners to hold Chief Constables to account so we welcome measures to improve transparency and enhance the confidence of the public."

Police 'accountable to the law and the law alone'

The Police Federation of England and Wales said constables "should never face the possibility of being removed from their job due to political reasons or interference".

Constables ;should never face the possibility of being removed from their job due to political reasons' Credit: Dave Kendall/PA Wire

Chairman Steve Williams said: "All police officers should have the operational independence afforded to them by the office of constable - the principle that they are accountable to the law and the law alone.

"Police officers must be free to carry out their duties for the benefit of the public and to be free from compromise they must be sure their actions could not be improperly held against them in the future."

Vaz claims PCCs have 'worrying' ability to evade rules

Home Affairs committee chairman Keith Vaz said it is "worrying" that Police and Crime Commissioners "seem able to side-step the statutory process for dismissing a chief constable".

Home Affairs committee chairman Keith Vaz. Credit: PA/PA Wire

Mr Vaz said: "Police and Crime Panels should make more active use of their powers to scrutinise decisions such as this.

"We will be returning to this area when we carry out our next major inquiry into Polic eand Crime Commissioners, towards the end of this year."

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