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You can sack me and the other police commissioners, Bob Jones tells ministers

You can sack me and the other police commissioners, Bob Jones tells ministers

🕔07.Jun 2013

sackSeven months into his £100,000 a year job as West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Bob Jones has urged the Government to sack him and the country’s other PCCs.

Mr Jones, a former Wolverhampton Labour councillor, said elected police commissioners should be replaced by something more accountable to the public and less party political.

His remarks to the BBC are in line with previous comments by the West Midlands PCC.

Shortly after being elected last November he told Chamberlain Files that he didn’t believe in police commissioners and thought that the police authority, of which he was a prominent member, should not have been dismantled by the Government.

His latest pronouncement underlines his party’s view that police commissioners are a waste of money and little more than a gimmick introduced by the coalition government. There are also concerns about a lack of proper scrutiny of the commissioners and fears that  chief constables are not being held publicly to account for their actions.

Earlier this month the shadow chancellor Ed Balls hinted that a Labour government might change or even dismantle the new system, although he did not expand on what PCCs might be replaced with.

Mr Balls said in a keynote speech: “When we are losing thousands of police officers and police staff, how have we ended up spending more on police commissioners than the old police authorities, with more elections currently timetabled for 2016?”

Mr Jones told the BBC that he would take redundancy if a more suitable alternative to his post could be found, although he stressed that he didn’t want redundancy pay.

He said the £100 million spent on electing the police and crime commissioners across England would have been better spent “keeping police officers on our streets”.

However, his claim that police commissioners are too political may be taken with a pinch of salt.

Mr Jones appointed Birmingham Labour city councillor Yvonne Mosquito as his deputy and three other Labour councillors as assistant commissioners.

A crime panel which acts as a police scrutiny body is made up of West Midlands council leaders and has a Labour majority.

In his BBC interview Mr Jones said residents would relate better to panels governing each council area than one person for the whole West Midlands. The current set-up was causing “considerable problems, especially in the West Midlands”, because the area was too big and too diverse to be overseen by one person.

The Government’s position remains that it is up to voters to make it clear through the ballot box whether police commissioners are doing a good job and are value for money.

Ministers at the Home Office insist that local people have for the first time “a real influence over crime and policing priorities” in their area.

However, the turnout in the West Midlands for last November’s PCC election was among the lowest in the country at 12 per cent.

Mr Jones has kept to a manifesto commitment that the cost of running his office would always be less than that of running the former police authority. He has also turned down the offer of a chauffeur-driven car, preferring to travel whenever possible by public transport.

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