FORMER Labour MP Alun Michael has taken his official oath as South Wales Police's first elected commissioner.Mr Michael swore the oath of office — in Welsh and in English — at today's final South Wales Police Authority meeting at force headquarters in Bridgend.
At midnight tonight he will officially assume the responsibilities of the authority, and will have the power to control the force budget, decide the level of council tax precepts, set policing priorities, and be able to hire and fire the chief constable.
The former Police Minister in Tony Blair's government won last week's election for commissioner, though the turnout across South Wales was just 15 per cent.The UK Government says commissioners will make police forces more accountable to the communities they serve, but critics have warned of the politicisation of policing.
Speaking at the oath ceremony, Mr Michael said: "Engaging the public and serving the public are the challenges we face."We have to make sure that whether we wanted the system or not, we have got to make it works."He added that he would "hold the police to account, and protect the police from political influence from whatever quarter it comes" and represent the people of South Wales "without fear or favour or bias".
The oath taken by Mr Michael, is common to all commissioners, and was drawn-up by the Home Office.It includes a pledge by the commissioners to "act with integrity and diligence in my role and, to the best of my ability, will execute the duties of my office to ensure that the police are able to cut crime and protect the public."
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