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Police elections 'will just be a popularity contest'

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 02, 2012

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The chairman of the police and crime commissioner panel has criticised the role he has been appointed to oversee.

PCCs, as they will be known, will be responsible for setting priorities for their police force, overseeing the budget and hiring the chief constable.

Conservative leader of North Somerset Council, Nigel Ashton is set to chair the panel for Avon and Somerset after the new commissioner for the force is chosen through elections on November 15.

He said: “It’s too much power in one person’s hands who’s directly elected. Whilst I’m sure there’ll be some good candidates, it’s based on popularity.

“Will candidates be saying the popular things, rather than things that are most efficient?

“With bobbies on the beat – everybody likes that – but it’s not necessarily the most efficient way of policing and that should be left to the police to determine that, not on the whims of someone who is trying to win an election.”

Mr Ashton said it was a “misguided” decision by his own party to create the role.

But policing minister Damian Green, who is overseeing the introduction of commissioners, said he disagreed with Mr Ashton’s comments.

He said: “Crime and policing is one of the most important areas of public life that people care about and for the first time ever they will be getting a say in how their streets are policed.

“We are putting power into the hands of the people which is what democracy is about.”

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