While I accept that the arrest of Damian Green and the invasion of his privacy was quite appalling, and that those responsible have to be held to account, this kind of abuse does not usually take place in the other 43 police forces in the kingdom, and certainly not in Devon and Cornwall. The upper echelons of the police are composed of highly qualified and dedicated men and women whose professionalism is without question.
Michael Howard established police authorities in their present form when he was home secretary. They are composed of elected county and unitary councillors, who form a majority on the authority, and independent members who are recommended by the Home Office and then appointed by the councillors. We appoint the chief constable and those of senior rank, hold the chief constable to account, set the budget and lay down policy guidelines. Some useful post here.
Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell (‘The real lesson of this fiasco is that we need elected police chiefs’, 13 December) are confused about the role of police authorities and their assumption that they meekly go along with their chief constable at all times is incorrect. Although we do not interfere with operational matters any more than Boris Johnson as Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority would, we in Devon and Cornwall went through a difficult period in recent years which resulted in the retirement of our then chief constable. The partnership of authority and police is both challenging and rewarding and serves the community well.
Elected sheriffs are not the answer. Not only would they attempt to interfere with operational matters which are the prerogative of the force but, also, who would hold them to account? The present system works well. If it ain’t broke, don’t mend it.
Sir Simon Day
Member and former chairman of Devon &
Cornwall Police Authority