A top government adviser on police and crime has visited Harrogate and spoken in support of the upcoming Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
Gordon Wasserman, a Conservative peer and government advisor on Policing and Criminal Justice, defended the move to put elected representatives on police forces across England and Wales.
He said: “I have never really understood why politics can come into everything else, and even comes into national policing, but cannot come into local policing.
“All important matters are referred to the democratic process, so why shouldn’t local policing needs be part of politics?”
Lord Wasserman spoke on a visit to Harrogate’s Police Treatment Centre on Friday, October 12.
He said the new elected commissioners would not bring politics into day-to-day policing, but would be responsible for finding out local priorities for policing.
“There is simply no question of commissioners interfering with operational policing. I would be the first to leave the country if that happens.”
He went on to say that while the election process for police and crime commissioners would be political, the job itself would not be.
“Public service in this country has always been about service to everyone. Once the commissioners are elected they will work for everyone.”
But Lord Wasserman, one of the architects of the controversial policy, admitted the public do not know enough about the new role and are “cynical” about the change. But he predicted that within six months there will be a shift in attitudes to the job.
“It will be much changed, because there will be a someone out and about asking what people want from local policing.”
He compared the commissioner’s role to a hospital administrator.
“You can have someone who makes decisions about the hospital but is not going to do the operations.
“The commissioner isn’t going to be making arrests. They will know what the priorities should be, but they don’t know how to police.
“I am a great believer in this. It will make communities safer, because leadership is what makes the difference between a good team and a great team.”
Lord Wasserman visited the centre with Julia Mulligan, Conservative candidate for Police and Crime Commisioner in North Yorkshire, to hear about plans to update its facilities.
Chief Executive Michael Baxter said the charity behind the centre, which treats police officers injured on or off duty, has received a Home Office grant and other donations but still needs to raise £290,000 for its next renovation project.
Mr Baxter said they would welcome visits from any Police and Crime Commissioner candidates.
The centre on Harlow Moor Road treats around 249 officers a year. Police officers from across the north of England visit the centre for physiotherapy and rehabitation, and many North Yorkshire officers visit for day treatments. Day to day running is funded by contributions from serving officers, he added.
• Elections for North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner will take place on Thursday, November 15.
See future editions of the Harrogate Advertiser for more information about the elections and full profiles of candidates.