After years of Westminster politicians promising to put more police officers on the streets of local communities, Nick Herbert MP, Tory spokesman on police reform, has had enough and thinks an entirely different approach is needed. Mr Herbert has written an article for the magazine of the Reform think tank about rebuilding the links between local communities and the police service. Mr Herbert’s inspiration is one of the founding principles of British policing, as set out by Sir Robert Peel in 1829 – ”the police are the public and the public are the police."
According to The Daily Telegraph Mr Herbert wants "communities unhappy with the priorities of chief officers," to be able to, "withhold part of the budget and spend it on beat patrols of their own, or reopen mothballed police stations". Mr Herbert ultimately wants to see local communities elect police authorities or, ideally, their police commissioner.
The proposed reforms to policing are the most concrete example of the Tory leadership’s commitment to localism. Localisation competes with crunchy conservatism, ‘modern compassionate conservatism‘ and ‘fraternity‘ to be defining labels for Cameronism. The Direct Democracy campaign launched its Agenda for a New Model Party immediately after the last General Election. DD has ten founding themes:
- Decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people they affect.
- Decision-makers should be directly elected.
- Citizens should be as free as possible from state coercion.
- Local authorities should be self-financing.
- Policing should be brought under local democratic control.
- The state should fund, rather than administer, education.
- The state should fund, rather than administer, healthcare.
- Taxes should be simple, fair, transparent, efficient, competitive and low.
- The supremacy of Parliament should be guaranteed over ministers, judges, officials and foreign treaty obligations.
- Candidates for public office should be selected from the widest possible base.
On today’s Platform Daniel Hannan MEP thinks that localisation might be the answer to the West Lothian Question.