An election that is needed

BTPAs we approach the May elections when we will all be able to vote for our Police and Crime Commissioner, it is noticeable that one Police force that is not held democratically accountable by a PCC or through any other means is the British Transport Police. Although the BTP governance structure is essentially the same as was for all police forces before the introduction of the PCC’s they are distinctive in that they are a national police service and so there is no local democratic element at all, and arguably no national democratic element either. Instead the British Transport Police Authority has one ex-MP, Esther McVey appointed by the Government to Chair the board and then at present 10 other people (7 men and three women) who are in principle on the board to ensure that the Transport Police operate in an effective manner. In reality the board is intended to have 15 members so at present there are 4 vacancies and no indications that the Department for Transport is seeking candidates for the 4 vacant seats. Apart from Ms McVey all of the board members are people with links either to the rail industry or to policing, none of them have any link in a democratic sense to the community that BTP serve and sadly some of their recent decision making would suggest that there is something of a deficit. Like all Police forces BTP have been obliged to manage with diminishing funding and according to recent news reports they have decided to bring to an end a specialist unit that focused on sex crimes, yet is retaining two other units that specialise in theft of property and bikes. No doubt these both perform vital roles, but because you and I are not represented on the Police Authority, we have no way of raising our concerns, assuming of course we think that these decisions reflect a set of misplaced priorities! I certainly don’t think this is the right sort of message to be sending out to people who travel by train. It seems clear to me that some form of democratic process is needed to bring the BTP into line with the rest of the nations police forces, there is probably a case for retaining a board type arrangement (I would have favoured an elected board for all police forces). However Governments seem to like the idea of appointing their friends to such roles so we may need to wait a while!


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Community Safety, Justice Issues, Network Rail, Parliament and Democracy, Police & Crime Commissioner, Policing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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