Police and crime commissioners get the go ahead

PEOPLE IN Sussex will next year be given the opportunity to vote for one person to oversee policing in the county after the government voted to replace police authorities with directly elected police and crime commissioners.

The elected Police and Crime Commissioner, to be elected next November, will be responsible for overseeing policing in the county; they will hold the Chief Constable to account, set the police budget, and policing priorities for Sussex, will have the power to hire and fire the Chief Constable and will scrutinise performance of Sussex Police.

The passing of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill has not been without its problems and speaking this month about the Bill gaining Royal Assent, Steve Waight, chairman of Sussex Police Authority, said, “I am pleased the Bill has finally passed through Parliament and we can now get down to the business of planning, in due course, a smooth handover of the powers of the police authority to a PCC that leaves the people of Sussex with a continuous mechanism for police accountability.

“We must not underestimate the significance of this step for more visible police accountability, it is in some ways the equivalent of Sussex voting for the Mayor of London and effectively the people of Sussex will be the employers of the PCC.

“I am, therefore, surprised the Government has chosen to hold an election in the depths of November. This is a notoriously difficult time to get people to come out and vote which means that the chances of a more extreme candidate getting elected are increased.

“As chairman of the Sussex Police Authority, I will seek to ensure that in the run up to the election next year the authority continues to fulfil its functions right up until we handover to a PCC, whoever that might be.

“We will use this time as an opportunity to make sure the transition from police authority to PCC works well for the people of Sussex and we will be engaging with partners to ensure that we are fully prepared for a transfer of responsibility to a PCC following an election on November 15 next year.

“The authority is determined that as well as ensuring that policing in Sussex continues to be as efficient and effective as possible, not withstanding the reduction in budget for Sussex Police, we will continue to hold the Chief Constable to account, setting the budget and the strategic direction for the force. We will keep the people of Sussex and our partners up to date on the plans as they progress.”