Quick comment on last night's Lords debate, and the amendment made which would (if it goes through) recast the PCC/PCP as a police authority-style police commission.
It's an interesting debate and deserves a read. Here's a link -
The amendment (which was agreed by a majority of 12) gives the PCP the authority to make decisions relating to policing as a corporate body, and obliges them to appoint a commissioner from amongst their number. Consequently the commissioner would be a sitting councillor from one of the authorities in the area or one of the lay members.
My view is that this is even worse than the Government's proposals as it would arguably put one local councillor in a pre-eminent position over others, and inter-authority conflict would be almost inevitable. It wouldn't necessarily avoid the political influence problems which have been cited as the main stumbling block to the Government's plans. But I understand what the amendment is trying to achieve.
What happens now? Well, when the Lords have gone through the rest of the Bill (this was only the first amendment - and it took more than three hours to debate!) more amendments may well have been agreed. There will then be a period of formal, and informal, horse-trading between the two houses. It can be expected that the Government will make concessions - probably bolstering the role and powers of the PCP, or acceding to the demand for pilots in some areas - but the principles of elected police commissioners will undoubtedly remain as it is mentioned in the coalition agreement. As a flagship Government policy, it would be hugely embarrassing for the Government to have to climb down on this and they will do everything possible to ensure that it goes through. If it fails the Home Secretary would certainly have to resign and the Prime Minister's own position would be very shaky.
What this does mean is that the current CLG/Home Office discussions, and the discussions in which we are involved, around the relationship between PCPs and overview and scrutiny, may be thrown into confusion. The proposed election date of May 2012 is looking less and less feasible at the moment.