All change as police set to restructure

BEDFORDSHIRE residents will vote for a new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) to oversee justice across the county for the first time on November 15.

The role will see a ‘corporation sole’ take charge of the county’s police force for the first time ever, doing away with the police’s current local regulatory body the Bedfordshire Police Authority.

The decision to scrap police auhoritys and instead elect a single commissioner is designed to allow the public a greater say in how their area is policed and make regulation of the force more accountable to the public.

The PCC will solely be given the power to hire and fire the force chief constable, set the force budget and precept, agree police and crime priorities and ensure value for money. PCC budget decisions will also affect agencies that work alongside the police to tackle crime.

The role will see the PCC charged with producing a five year police and crime plan which is said to be more complex than current plans as it will cover all aspaects of criminal justice in Bedfordshire and not just policing.

A police and crime panel made up of between 12 and 20 councillors and co-optees will scrutinise the role.

Under the changes, the chief constable’s role will be to direct and control the police force to assist the PCC.

From November, police officers will effectively be employed by the force’s Chief Constable with police staff employed by the PCC.

This could give police the right to strike during industrial disputes - a right that law doesn’t currently allow.

Linda Hockey, vice chairman of the Beds Police Authority, said: “We’ve developed a detailed transistion plan and are confident we’re going to hit the mark come November. We’ve an awful lot to do as a police authority to ensure a smooth transition and carry on with our duty at the same time.”

Once the election, which will be overseen by Luton Borough Council on behalf of the counties three local authorities, has taken place the new commissioner will take up the role on November 22.