Why is Keep Politics Out Of Policing important?
Nearly 80 years after Ronald Kidd was first inspired to found the National Council for Civil Liberties when he witnessed police misconduct at a demonstration, police accountability is once again on the agenda.
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The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, passed by Parliament in September 2011, has abolished police authorities and replaced them with directly elected politicians who oversee local police forces and hire and fire Chief Constables.
In London, where the Metropolitan Police Authority has also been abolished, the replacement Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime, an office held by the Mayor, was set up in January 2012.
This new policing structure compromises police force independence and puts pressure on police to serve a political agenda rather than the community as a whole.
Isabella Sankey, Director of Policy for Liberty said:
“Independent policing is as vital as an independent judiciary and Chief Constables should be above party politics not subordinate to it."
If policing becomes solely about winning votes, there will undoubtedly be casualties – the needs of minority groups will quickly slip down the agenda, as will those issues which are not sufficiently eye-catching.
An independent police force is a crucial ingredient of a healthy democracy. A police force in the hands of politicians is something we associate more with authoritarian states than modern democracies. Policing should be governed by the need to keep our streets safe, protect the vulnerable and uphold the law of the land. There is no room for political point scoring.