Honesty highlights the need to keep politics out of policing

I read with interest your interview with Neil Rhodes, Lincolnshire’s Chief Constable.

It is refreshing to have a Chief Constable so prepared to speak out on behalf of the county and, while choosing his words carefully, making it clear that a large part of the problem the force faces can be tracked back to successive previous Labour and Conservative governments and their failure to fund rural areas properly.

I know from my experience gained when I was chief executive of the county council and chairman of United Hospitals NHS Trust just how underfunded many of Lincolnshire’s public services are in comparison with other parts of the country.

Worse still, this underfunding is not taken into account when the cuts are allocated in Whitehall, making the position even worse for rural areas.

I value a Chief Constable who is prepared to be open and honest and critical of central government.

However, he is soon to have a new boss, an elected police commissioner with the power to hire and fire him.

If politicians are elected to commissioner posts, would chief constables up and down the country be quite so prepared to be open and frank with the public?

Would they feel they could make comments which may undermine political spin and gloss which could be deemed to be critical of their new ‘political masters’?

We need a police force where officers from the chief constable down feel free to express their view openly and honestly if we are to work with communities to tackle crime and the fear of crime especially at a time of cuts.

With a politician as a commissioner, we just may not get that.

That is one of the many reasons why I am standing as an Independent commissioner to keep politics out of policing.

David Bowles

(Police commissioner candidated)