The next Police and Crime Commissioner elections will not take place until May 2020 but I’m pleased to see that the Conservatives are getting on with selecting candidates.

The Candidates Department has sent out this message:

“I am writing to remind you that the closing date for applications to apply for the position of a PCC is Monday 6 August.”

That went to those on the candidates list. But new applicants are also welcome. It is simply a matter of registering an interest here. The site declares:

“If you are passionate about delivering for your community, we want to hear from you.

Our Police and Crime Commissioners come from all walks of life. With different backgrounds and different experiences.

So do you have the energy and commitment to help keep your community safe?

Then you’ve got what it takes to become a Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner.

Just fill in the form below – and we’ll be in touch soon.”

Does this push to encourage more applicants suggest that the Party is not exactly overwhelmed already? Perhaps. Although it be simple good practice to ensure that everyone is aware of the opportunity.

Police and Crime Commissioners were created in 2012 when Theresa May was the Home Secretary. So they were her responsibility. But the initiative was not her idea – its origins come from the 2005 “Direct Democracy” proposals from Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell. They would have preferred to call them sheriffs. They didn’t get their way on the name – which was a shame as the lumbering bureaucratic title chosen can hardly have helped turnout for the elections. However the key elements of substance were delivered – that the PCCs would be directly elected and have such powers as setting the police budget, determining local priorities for policing, and being able to sack chief constables.

While given the job of implementing the policy, May was not much of an enthusiast. In 2016 she told a Policy Exchange event she was worried she had created a “monster”. Yet she overcame such doubts and resolved not only that the PCCs should stay but that they should be given more power. Labour and the Lib Dems have abandoned their opposition. That is welcome. The previous arrangement of police authorities were a waste of time and money. They were talking shops with no power to hold the police to account.

In the 2016 PCC elections the Conservative candidates generally did well. The Conservatives won 20 of the 40 contests held in England and Wales. 15 were won by Labour, three to independents, and two to Plaid Cymru. There should be potential for the Conservatives to make some gains next time – for instance narrowly losing in Cheshire last time round was something of a surprise.

For Greater Manchester policing is the responsibility of the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham. So they don’t have a separate PCC. In London the responsibility rests with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. While Khan’s record has been hopeless, at least there is widespread public understanding of this. Localism gave us power – but ii is up to us if we notice this and if so if we use it effectively.

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