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Politicians 'will remove police's independence'

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 10, 2012

Mike Baker

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A CANDIDATE in next week's South Wales Police Commissioner elections has warned of the dangers of introducing political influence over policing.

Mike Baker, who is standing as an independent, said that once representatives of political parties are in charge of forces "police will lose all independence" and never be able to get it back.

The public go to the polls on Thursday, November 15, to elect police and crime commissioners, new posts that come with the power to control police budgets, hire and fire chief constables, and decide policing priorities.

Each force in Wales and England outside London will have a commissioner, who will replace the existing police authorities.

Mr Baker, a former policeman who is now a lawyer, said: "It is vital that the communities of South Wales are alive to what is happening.

"Politicians are trying to become their party representative in charge of the police, and if that happens then the police will lose all independence and it will never be recovered.

"I am not affiliated to, nor been a member of, any political party — as commissioner I will take my lead from the people of South Wales and not from party political leaders in either Westminster or Cardiff Bay.

"I will listen to everyone who has something to say regarding victim support, offender rehabilitation and management and particularly the fight against all forms of crime."

He also urged as many people as possible to take part in the ballot on Thursday, regardless of who they decide to vote for.

There are four candidates in South Wales — along with Mr Baker there is fellow independent Tony Verderame, along with Caroline Jones for the Tories, and Labour's Alun Michael.

The Dyfed-Powys race is between Christine Gwyther for Labour and Christopher Salmon for the Conservatives.

The UK Government says commissioners will make police forces more accountable to the communities they serve — but fears have been raised about how many people will actually vote on Thursday.

Some are predicting a turnout of just 15 per cent in the elections — which are costing some £75 million to stage — prompting concerns that a low turnout would undermine the legitimacy of commissioners.

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  • Dooyah  |  November 12 2012, 6:17PM

    Stork and Neathboy234 The cost of the election isn't the reason for demanding a £5000 deposit. The real reason was to exclude as many as possible from putting their names forward. The elected PCC idea is one from Cameron and his mates - Note that there was no refendum to see if we wanted to go the way of the USA. The ConDem Government are reducing the number of police officers by 15,000 and they are making similar cuts in civilian staff who provide admin backup. The Tories want more private contractors carrying out police work and getting an elected PCC to take the flak when the time comes is part of the plan. morlaisboy I agree. We should keep it the way it is, but that's not what the Prime Minister and his paymasters want.

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  • morlaisboy  |  November 12 2012, 2:53PM

    It begs the question of what is an INDEPENDENT ? Every person is influenced by their experiences, the community they were brought up in, family life, education etc.. Moreover, the Police are a political organisation as part of the political fabric of the nation. Probably the worst choice for a police comissioner would be an ex serving Police Officer. The whole concept is flawed as no one person should occupy such a position. An elected tribunal of say five people from the community they live in would be far more democratic.

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  • Stork  |  November 12 2012, 2:31PM

    Dooyah That's probably why most Police Commissioners will probably be faded politicians of either red or blue colours.

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  • Neathboy234  |  November 12 2012, 2:28PM

    Dooyah i think it might be something to do with the fact that this pointless exercise is costing so much money. the only good point i can see with this election is that it wouldn't take very long to count the vote, i's image it will be done well within half and hour

  • Dooyah  |  November 12 2012, 1:43PM

    Stork Ask the Tories - It's their idea and they set the rules.

  • Stork  |  November 12 2012, 12:29PM

    I discovered over the weekend that candidates for the Police Commissioner have to pay a deposit of £5,000-which they could lose. Whereas, if you stand for Parliament, your deposit is I understand only £1000. Why ? Is it to drive out Independent Candidates ?

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  • Neathboy234  |  November 12 2012, 11:49AM

    Eric_PodeSunday Are any of the candidates extremists. In wales it doesn't look like. Although i guess it's down to what someone would call an extremists. Personally i find some of the views of the right of the Tory party to be extreme, and i'm sure these MP's would proud to call themselves right wing. What that makes UKIP i'm not sure. What i do know is that it now look like less than 10% of people may vote, this is excellent news. On a less positive note i see that simon weston has said that he may stand in the years to come. Although not illegal i do think it's morally wrong for an ex so called joy rider to be head of the police. How can the bobby on the street have any respect for someone who has carried out such an act i do not know. Then again we're all different, if he wants to stand in the years to come then it's up to him. I'm sure many of the good things he's done will out balance the bad ones. None of us are angels after all

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  • timhayes  |  November 12 2012, 10:53AM

    "Bennyhill4". Very true. I think it's a great shame that a lot of people vote "traditionally" rather than actually looking at the candidates and seeing what they, as individuals, have to offer. To be honest, I can't see much difference nowadays between the Labour and Conservative parties. And, as for the Lib Dems ......................................

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  • timhayes  |  November 12 2012, 10:51AM

    "KP287". I wasn't aware that appointing a Police Commissioner was a form of privatisation. It looks to me as if it's a political post which is why I won't vote on Thursday. By the way, the "New" Labour government was in power for 13 years and did nothing to stop any privatisation. In fact, things like the sale of council houses actually increased so, even though I am not biased towards any political party, I don't agree with all this criticism of the Tories just because this is, and always will be, a Labour stronghold. Facts are much more important than insults.

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  • Eric_Pode  |  November 11 2012, 7:32PM

    Are any of the candidates extremists?

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