'Police commissioner should know justice system'
THE role of police commissioner is “not a job for a politician coming to the end of his or her career” according to a candidate standing in the South Wales Police election.
Independent Mike Baker said he wanted people to consider whether they wanted a politician having power over the police when they go to the polls next month.
Policeman-turned-solicitor Mr Baker spoke out during a campaigning visit to Gowerton and Port Talbot this week ahead of the November 15 poll.
He said: “We elect our politicians to serve us in the chambers of power, namely Westminster and Cardiff Bay or local councils.
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“They were the law-makers and were involved in drafting the laws — it is wholly unacceptable that they should now be trying to be the enforcers of those laws.
“I have been working in criminal justice for 40 years, the first 30 as a police officer and then as a lawyer. I know how the systems work and am very skilled at challenging the police when necessary, having successfully done so in the past.
“This is a job for a professional, not a politician coming to the end of his or her career or someone with no background in criminal justice.”
Mr Baker said the people he met during his visits wanted a higher profile police service with more officers on the beat.
The former policeman said that while he supported people’s aspirations, police budget cuts meant that was unlikely — as an alternative he suggested forces should consider making more use of Special Constables.
Police commissioners are powerful new posts that come with the ability to control police budgets, hire and fire chief constables and decide policing priorities.
The UK Government says they will make police forces more accountable to the communities they serve — but opponents have claimed they will lead to politicisation of policing.
There are four candidates in the South Wales Police election — Mr Baker, fellow independent Tony Verderame, Labour’s Alun Michael and Caroline Jones for the Conservatives.
The Dyfed-Powys race is between Christine Gwyther for Labour and Tory Christopher Salmon.