I left the Liberal Democrats in 2012 after 25 years to stand as an Independent in the Police Commissioner elections. I opposed the new Police Commissioners being party political, and thought it was a ridiculous decision of the Liberal Democrats in Merseyside to contest the election. As a lecturer in law at the University of Liverpool I'd spent many years telling people that I was an expert in police accountability, and criticising the accountability system, it seemed hypocritical to me if I didn't stand. In the event I got 14,000 votes and came second in every district on Merseyside except Wirral, but a narrow third behind the Conservative overall.
It is disgraceful that the main parties and the Electoral Commission failed to carry out any adequate investigation into the fiasco of the elections or the 150,000 spoilt votes. One of the biggest protests in decades has been largely ignored by official responses to the disastrous election, as I predicted. Will the Conservatives scrap this system now that its creator, Douglas Carswell, defected to UKIP. Has it saved any money as intended? I doubt it. Has it brought police accountability closer to the people – the people are as oblivious as before. Will Conservatives and Labour who won most of the positions want to give them up? And the Lib Dem and Labour policies were half baked on reform as well. Some of the non-party political PCCs have made just the kind of blunders that they criticise politicians for – squandering finance, splashing out on expenses, being out of touch. Some of the PCCs, including both independent and some the party political ones (mostly Labour politicians) appear to have tried to make a real difference but get very little attention. Some of the career Labour and mostly Conservative ex-Minister or MP Police Commissioners appear to have had very little visibility at all. Is it time to abolish PCCs now and put police accountability under the supervision of the New Labour next generation city region Mayors / region authorities that the Conservatives are imposing on local government? In effect that is what happens in London (always given special – usually more sympathetic – treatment in policy reforms).
The Coalition followed the Labour and Conservative obsession with reorganising things (such as national policing structures) and the Conservatives seem intent on reorganising the police yet again, rather than letting them do their job of catching criminals and investigating and deterring crime. They should at least try and avoid another wasteful set of PCC elections, by adding the accountability function to give local leaders something to do, or decide they will keep them – NOT do something else – but have a genuinely fair and competent election.