Police tsars ‘should be given greater powers’

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Elected police and crime commissioners should be given the power to hire and fire prison governors and probation chiefs, a report has recommended.

Limits on their current remit mean the 41 police and crime commissioners (PCCs) across England and Wales are “operating with one arm tied behind their back”, according to Policy Exchange.

The think tank, which describes itself as the organisation that first proposed introducing commissioners, claims expanding the role will inject dynamism into the justice system and make it cheaper and more effective.

Its report, Power Down, calls for the roles of 10 PCCs to be bolstered with new powers that would effectively make them local ministers for crime and policing by giving them the ability to appoint local justice figures and order prison and police force inspections.

Policy Exchange recommends that London’s deputy mayor for policing and crime should be among the 10 but the rest could be drawn from any PCCs that want to take on the extra responsibilities.

PCCs, who replaced existing police authorities in 41 areas across England and Wales, were handed the power to set force budgets and hire and fire chief constables.

Just 15.1 per cent of registered voters took part in the PCC elections last November.

Last month the Home Affairs Select Committee warned that checks and balances on PCCs were “too weak” after raising concerns that those elected to the role were showing a “worrying” ability to evade rules when sacking chief constables.