Living God's Love Values - Generosity, Joy, Imagination and Courage
Living God's Love Values - Generosity, Joy, Imagination and Courage

On the 15th November, the first ever elections for the new Police and Crime Commissioners will take place across the country. Whatever our views on the wisdom of this development, these Commissioners will be given significant responsibilities. Replacing Police Authorities, they will hold the police to account on behalf of the public, and also hold the Chief Constable to account for the performance of his or her force area?s officers and staff. They will set strategic direction and will have the power to appoint, and in certain circumstances, to remove the Chief Constable. They will have a duty to deliver better value for money and more effective policing.

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The appointment of a Police and Crime Commissioner in both Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire should engage our careful and prayerful participation, especially over the exercise of the second preference vote which the electoral system in use provides. At the same time, there are real concerns that the election will have a very low turnout. In a recent letter in the Daily Telegraph, the Electoral Reform Society wrote of the possibility of ?rock bottom turnout? and hoped that the Government would never again call a winter election. Why not use the cut-out flyer this edition of See Round in your window to encourage a good turnout at the election?

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More alarmingly they pointed to the danger that low turnouts can open the door to extreme candidates. In the 2009 local and European elections the two Archbishops warned of the dangers of voting for any party ?whose core ideology is about sowing division in our communities and hostility on grounds of race, creed or colour.? Neither is this the platform for such views.

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The Christian concern for the whole community not only calls on us to vote but also to keep before us the priority of the well-being of all and the common good. Police and Crime Commissioners, with their responsibility for policing across the county, cannot be partisan: they must respond to community concerns without regard to whose voice shouts loudest. Indeed they must embody the values of the oath that they will need to take which includes: ?I will serve all the people of [Police Force Area] in the office of Police and Crime Commissioner without fear or favour?.

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As I prepare to vote in the Police and Crime Commissioner election, in addition to my assessment of their overall vision for policing, their general competency and experience, I find myself pondering four questions which I commend to you. Will this candidate:

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    Have a particular concern for ensuring the safety of the weakest in our society?

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    Have the ability to hold together the differing policing needs of rural and urban communities?

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    Rejoice in the ethnic and faith diversity of our communities?

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    Place an emphasis on restorative justice and the reintegration of ex-offenders back into community?

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Thursday 15th November may be cold; it may even be raining, but despite the weather and the unfamiliarity of voting in November let us vote; and let us vote as always with a concern for the good of all.

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