Brighton & Hove Green Party

Advice on the Police and Crime Commissioner election

Police officers9 November 2012

If you would like to know more about the Green Party position in Brighton and Hove regarding the Police & Crime Commissioner election in Sussex on Thursday 15 November, here are some frequently asked questions to help explain the issues.

Pic: Sussex has been asked to go to the polls to elect a new police post

Q. Why isn’t there a Green candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner in Sussex on Thursday?

We aren’t standing a candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner in Sussex (or in most parts of the country) because we don’t agree with the principle that one politician of one political colour should have control over a regional police service which covers such a large and diverse area as Sussex and serves more than 1.5 million people (the same population as Northern Ireland).

The Coalition Government has introduced ‘Police and Crime Commissioner’ posts at a significant cost to the tax payer.  The cost of the election has been estimated at £75m every four years.

In Sussex, the chief post has a salary of £85,000 and a deputy, if appointed, could be paid around £40,000. In time, an expensive infrastructure will also grow up around them. We believe precious public funds at a time of austerity could be better spent on frontline policing and community safety rather than adding another bureaucratic and narrowly politicised layer to the police service.

We also worry that police force morale may be badly damaged should the commissioner be forced – as is likely – into political debates about the best – or cheapest – way to police Sussex.

Q. Who should Green voters choose in the absence of a Green candidate?

The Brighton and Hove Green Party is not backing or endorsing anyone and is not encouraging people to vote in this election. We believe it is appropriate for each voter to decide whether to vote and, if so, how to mark their ballot paper.  It is likely that many voters will not vote at all.

Q. What alternative do you offer?

We believe policing should be operationally independent of politics, administered at a more local level and backed by vigorous community oversight from local elected representatives such as councillors, MPs and elected panels, representing a variety of communities and political beliefs.

We will continue to represent the people of Brighton & Hove via the Police and Crime Panel, which will include an experienced elected Green councillor. And all our Green councillors and Green Member of Parliament, Caroline Lucas, will continue to support the police service where appropriate and to help in holding the police service to account where needed.

As a political party, and through our elected representatives, we will also monitor closely whoever is elected as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex, challenging them whenever required on such issues as crime prevention, community safety and policing in Brighton and Hove – that could be anything from concerns about police officers on their local beat to the safe management of protests and civil disobedience.

We believe this is better representation for the city than one politically motivated commissioner, selected to serve the whole of Sussex on what’s likely to be a very low voter turnout.

Q. By refusing to contest, aren’t you just ignoring problems such as crime and community safety?

We believe passionately in the safety of local communities.  Safer neighbourhoods underpin the Green vision for Brighton and Hove.  Community safety is threatened by Coalition-imposed austerity and the cuts that are being made to policing budgets everywhere by the Coalition Government, and which we fundamentally oppose.

Electing a Police & Crime Commissioner will not stop the cuts – indeed, the first job of a new commissioner may be to impose even harsher cuts.

As the party in administration on Brighton and Hove city council, we will ensure that the council prioritises community safety and supports policing operations and we will defend the police against further cuts to frontline services should they be proposed by the commissioner.

Our local Green councillors and our Green MP will continue to push the case for transparent, fair and effective policing across the city of Brighton and Hove.

For more information please contact Brighton and Hove Green Party office on 01273 766 670.

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Appendix - Brighton and Hove Green Party statement on the Police and Crime Commissioner election - July 2012

http://www.brightonhovegreens.org/news/brighton-and-hove-greens-oppose-sussex-police-commissioner-election.html

Brighton and Hove Greens oppose Sussex Police Commissioner election

July, 2012. The Brighton and Hove Green Party announced that it is to continue its opposition to the introduction of a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in Sussex.

It won't field a candidate in the forthcoming election in November for the new county-wide post.

Ray Cunningham, [then] chair of Brighton and Hove Green Party, said, "The idea of an elected Police and Crime Commissioner is a big mistake.

"This blatant politicisation of the police is bad for the force, bad for the community and bad for democracy, so we believe it's wrong to ask a Green candidate or Green voters to take part in it."

At present, policing is not part of the British electoral system.

Instead it is monitored and supervised at arm's length by a cross-party committee of elected members, meaning that no one political party controls the police.

The Greens believe that this is a far better approach than the election of a single, political commissioner, which has been introduced by the Conservative-led Coalition Government.

Ray Cunningham continued, "The British police should be a-political.

"To put the control of Sussex police into the hands of a single politician from a single political party is a grave error of judgement by this government.

"We will continue to campaign against such a policy."

The Brighton and Hove Green Party covers the city of Brighton & Hove while the PCC election is Sussex-wide.

The Brighton and Hove Green Party does not speak for other Green parties in Sussex.

Notes

For more information please contact Brighton and Hove Green Party office on 01273 766 670.

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