Session 2008-09, 3 December 2008

Letter from Martin Salter MP on the Policing Green Paper

RE: Policing Green Paper - proposal for direct elections to police authorities

I am writing to express my concern about the proposal to introduce direct elections for new police authorities in the Policing Green Paper.

Police authorities' current membership of local councillors and independent community members represents the interests of all local communities and is independent of specific party political considerations. The existing proposals are likely to damage these partnerships and may ultimately work against the intentions of the green paper to improve accountability and services. There is cross-party opposition to the Government's propsals from the Local Government Association.

There is a significant risk that direct elections would provide single issue groups and extremists with a powerful new opportunity to increase local influence. Public confidence may also be undermined if directly elected representatives make promises they cannot deliver, or if policing is represented by single issue groups or extremists.

I suggest this is a matter which requires a one-off evidence session, particularly as although we expressed reservations in our 21st Century Policing report, we didn't look at the issue in detail.

I would suggest that we call witnesses from the Association of Police Authorities (APA) and the Local Government Association (LGA). I have attached an APA press release for information.