AN INDEPENDENT standards watchdog is to conduct an investigation in the wake of controversy over directly-elected police and crime commissioners.
The Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) said it would examine “the leadership, accountability and ethics of local policing” after both Labour and the Liberal Democrats pledged to abandon the system of elected commissioners less than two years after the first polls for the posts – which were were undermined by record low turnouts.
Commissioners have since been embroiled in a string of controversies, with the long battle to force South Yorkshire PCC Shaun Wright’s resignation over the Rotherham child abuse scandal the latest to shake faith in the system.
Only one in 10 eligible voters took part in a recent by-election to find a new PCC for the West Midlands. Politicians argue the sums spent on such polls would be better spent on policing.
CSPL chair Lord Bew said: “It is nearly two years since the election of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and it is sensible to review how well the new system is living up to its original rationale.
“The new system has been the subject of criticism, much of it arising from standards issues, yet the relationship between standards and governance structures has been relatively underexplored; more needs to done to consider how these structures can promote ethical behaviour and limit ethical risks.”
The committee is taking public submissions to its inquiry until November 30.