Prisoners could end up voting for police chiefs under government plans, Ed Balls warns

Today’s Sunday Telegraph reports that prisoners could end up voting for police chiefs under government plans. In response Labour’s shadow home secretary Ed Balls said:

“At a time when the government is slashing police funding by twenty per cent people will rightly be angry that the government can find £100 million for a new set of politicians.

“But to make matters worse we’re set to be the first country in the world, alongside two small states in America, where convicted criminals can vote for police chiefs from inside their prison cells.

“Ministers have failed to include anything in the legislation to rule this out. It is madness and we will oppose these plans. They risk politicising the police at huge cost to the public just when thousands of police officers are being cut.”

ENDS

  • The government will on Monday set out cuts to each police force in England and Wales after the spending review announced funding cuts for policing – the same day that costly police reforms will be debated in Parliament.
  • The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill will introduce a single directly elected police and crime commissioner in each police force area. They will have the power to hire and fire chief constables and will replace police authorities which are made up of around 17 representatives from local councils, independent members and magistrates.
  • Ed Balls’ office asked the House of Commons Library if they could identify any country in the Western world where prisoners can vote for their police leaders. The only example they could find were two states in the USA – Maine and Vermont – where, according to the New York Times, “inmates can vote (by absentee ballot) on everything, including the election of judges and how much money is spent on the police in their hometowns.”
  • The government is expected to extend the vote to prisoners following a European Court of Human Rights ruling. But Ministers have refused to state that prisoners will not, in future, be allowed to vote in these new elections and nothing in the Bill rules out the possibility (despite several pages of legislation on how the elections – which will be held every four years, starting in May 2012 – will be conducted).
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Posted December 12th, 2010 by Ed's team

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