Ex-police chief in call for boycott of police election
A CALL by Britain's former top cop for a boycott of the upcoming election for a new police commissioner in Devon and Cornwall has been branded "wrong and deeply irresponsible".
Policing Minister Damian Green has taken ex-Met police chief Sir Ian Blair to task over his comments urging voters to stay away from the polls next month.
The Minister insisted the elected office would give the public a say for the first time on important decisions about crime and policing in their area.
And addressing fears of a record low turnout, Mr Green argued that, whatever happened, every Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) would have more legitimacy than the "existing unaccountable, invisible police authorities" which they will replace.
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It came after Sir Ian encouraged people not to vote on November 15, in a bid to stop the controversial flagship policy.
He said: "I've never said this before but I actually hope people don't vote because that is the only way we are going to stop this."
Sir Ian argued the design of the posts was ill conceived.
"If they were going to break policing up, do it in a completely different way, small cities and small towns, perfect," he added. "But that is not what you have got.
"How can one person represent the Conservative shires of Oxfordshire and Slough? What is this?
"Remember the police authorities are being swept away, they are being replaced by a police and crime panel who can't even talk to the chief constable.
"This is just a very strange issue to come forward with at such a difficult time for the country."
The PCC, who will be paid £85,000 a year in Devon and Cornwall, will have the power to hire and fire chief constables and will also set the force's budget and "strategic direction".
Urging people to vote in the forthcoming election, Mr Green said: "Lord Blair was wrong and deeply irresponsible to say the public should not take part in a democratic election.
"Parliament decided to establish Police and Crime Commissioners and allow the public to have their say through the election of their local PCC.
"For the first time the public will finally have a say on key decisions about crime and policing in their area."
He added: "These are historic elections and those who are successful will be pioneers in this new policing landscape."