Crime commissioners may be hit by veto

New crime commissioners, who are expected to take over the role of current police authorities, could have their choice of candidates for chief constable jobs vetoed by the panels of councillors and experts who will work alongside them.

The commissioners (PCCs) will be given the power to hire and fire chief constables as they replace existing police authorities, which are made up of councillors and independent members.

But under Home Office plans they will be supported by police and crime panels (PCPs), made up of councillors and independent members, who will have "a power to veto the PCC's decision on precept and chief constable appointments", the Home Office said in its response to the consultation on police reform.

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The Government also plans to consider "refocusing the role" of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to enable it to handle complaints about the new commissioners in "a more informal and less bureaucratic manner". The Home Office said: "We are clear that the PCP must not become an alternative police authority which cuts across the democratic accountability and mandate of the PCC or create bureaucracy for the force.

"However, we think it is right that the PCP should be able to scrutinise key decisions effectively and we will specify that the PCP will have a power to veto the PCC's decision on precept and chief constable appointments."

The Home Office went on: "We are clear that the PCC has the ultimate responsibility for these decisions and we have therefore set a required majority of 3/4 of the PCP members in order for a veto to be successful."

It thought the power of veto would be used rarely, if at all, and the Home Secretary would be able to specify how it would work.

The panels would not be able to veto a commissioner's decision to sack a chief constable, and would only be able to provide "robust scrutiny " of a proposed budge. or the police and crime plan, with no power of veto in these areas, the Home Office said.