I know, I know, I have an opinion on most things political and every election I have had the choice to vote in I have. Voting is a massively important matter and is the only chance for people to influence the 'democratic process' in a significant way. So it runs against everything I believe in to not vote. The party of which I am a member Mebyon Kernow is not standing a candidate unsurprisingly considering the Devonwall implications for a Cornish centred party. But that's not why I won't vote, for me the beginning and end of the issue is I do not understand the need or benefit to have a democratically elected person from a political party as part of the police leadership. Much like many government policies such as Devonwall, pasty tax, privatisation of the NHS, regional pay to name but a few, the government has singularly failed to state the why this change is needed.
Call me old fashioned but if something needs to be changed then those proposing the change need to explain 3 key things, 1. what is wrong with the old system, 2. what the changes will be, 3. how change will make things better? As far as I am concerned this has not happened, I struggle to think what a new police commissioner will bring to the force and I have little faith that policing will be better as a result of 1 person being elected. Will the streets be safer because someone is elected to a well paid job? will I see more police on the streets as a result of this? will I see a reduction of crime in my neighbourhood? The answer to all these questions is I don't know. Considering this and the fact I have no real idea what the benefit of police commissioners is, I won't be voting.
The only thing I am quite sure of is 1 of the downsides, elected police commissioners will make policing and police forces more political. This will reduce policing issues to political issues that will be discussed and debated in Westminster village and not in the communities effected. We could well see a police commissioner reflecting party policy in their decision making rather than objectively deciding what is the best for their area. There will also be friction between police commissioners of one political party and a government of another political colour. Rather than focussing on the important issues policing may well be marred by political point scoring.
As much as not voting runs against everything I believe in, so does giving advice to the government, but they need to take a long hard look about how they introduce policy. If they truly want to make the UK more democratic by introducing politics into policing they need to state the case why anybody would want this. As far as I know there may well be lots of people in my position undecided whether this is a good thing let alone which candidate to vote for. As is to be expected of this out of touch government they have put the cart before the horse on this issue and this will be reflected (unfortunately) in a very low turn out in the polls.