Liberal Democrats oppose wasteful Police and Crime Commissioner

7 Mar 2024

At the Spelthorne Council meeting at the end of February, a motion proposed by the Liberal Democrats calling for the abolition of the post of Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) was overwhelmingly passed.

The motion stated:

The Council notes:

•    The efforts of Surrey’s Police Officers and PCSOs in keeping local communities safe
•    The increased levels of burglary and vehicle crimes and lack of visibility of police on the streets of Spelthorne
•    That the office costs of the Police and Crime Commissioner have increased by 50% while the number of PCSOs has been halved

 

The Council believes that the PCC isn’t a necessary role and requires the Leader write to the Home Secretary asking that the role be abolished with the financial savings reinvested into frontline policing and review the role of the Police and Crime Panels.

The motion was passed by 21 votes to 7 – only the Conservatives voted against.  Spelthorne Council motions are limited to 100 words, and this restricted how much detail could be included in the motion.  

This motion was brought forward by Cllr Lawrence Nichols, Leader of the  Spelthorne Liberal Democrat Group, to seek the better use of public money and to deliver more effective services for residents by abolishing the PCC role.  Cllr Nichols argued that the post had become purely political, wasted money and was failing to improve crime statistics for residents.  The PCC role has been in place since 2012, but the Liberal Democrats believe that the role is just not working.

Paul Kennedy with Cllr Harry Boparai
Lib Dem candidate for PCC Paul Kennedy with Cllr Harry Boparai outside Staines Police station

Seconding the motion, Cllr Harry Boparai, the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Spelthorne said “Winning this motion will hopefully be one step closer to eliminating this meaningless political post and allocating that funding to Surrey's front-line police.  I have had dozens of conversations with the residents of Spelthorne, and they have consistently told me that they feel they don't have a police force, while at the same time continuing to pay the highest police precept in England. The people are aware of the truth, despite the Tories using resident’s fears about safety as a political football.”

Spelthorne Liberal Democrats recognise the bravery and hard work of Surrey’s police officers, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and staff in trying to keep our local communities safe.  However, despite Surrey residents paying the highest council tax in England for their police force, just 150 out of over 2,700 residential burglaries were solved in the year to August 2023, and there were over 6,500 vehicle crimes, representing an annual increase of over 14%. 

Many more crimes could be prevented in Spelthorne with an increased community policing presence. Many of our communities have seen a drop in police visibility and presence over recent years.

The operating budget for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, including staff and running costs, is £1,667,000, representing an increase of nearly 70% since March 2021.

According to Home Office statistics, the number of PCSOs on Surrey’s streets reduced by nearly 50% from 140 to just 71 in the two years since March 2021.

We believe that the costs of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner should be spent on providing frontline police services, funding the equivalent of around 70 new PCSOs.

Regardless of the incumbent’s political allegiances, it is clear that the role of PCC is neither delivering better results or necessary, and should be abolished, with its functions transferring to Police Boards, made up of local councillors and representatives from relevant local groups.

The Surrey Liberal Democrat PCC candidate, Paul Kennedy has said “If elected I will cut the PCC's bloated office budget and spend the money on frontline policing. I will serve only one term, so I won't be campaigning for re-election, meaning I can be ambitious for policing not myself. I will focus on fixing the concerns in the PEEL (Police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) inspection which showed 6 of the 9 ratings had deteriorated since 2021.

“My police and crime plan will provide a balanced scorecard with clear and measurable objectives that the police can report against not the current muddled slogans. My annual reports will give a fair assessment of police performance not a one-sided piece of self-promoting propaganda. And, instead of bypassing local councils, I will push police accountability down to local community level so as to bring back community policing, instead of the current top-down reporting to one politician.”

The motion was won at the February Full Council meeting with support from Labour, the Independent and Green groups.  A similar motion has been passed in other boroughs, including Runnymede and Surrey Heath, and is due to come before other Surrey Councils.