Elected police chiefs will mean a Boris in every part of country, says Theresa May
PUBLISHED June 15, 2012
In an article for The Daily Telegraph, Theresa May credits the Mayor of London with increasing the number of officers on the streets because of his responsibility over the Metropolitan Police, as well as introducing innovative policies such as "sobriety tests" that could keep alcoholics out of jail.
She admits he has been critical of the Government despite standing as a Conservative, but adds that it will be a strength of the new Police and Crime Commissioners that they can do the same in the interests of their communities.
Her comments come just days after Nick Herbert, the police minister, described Mr Johnson as "effectively the first Police and Crime Commissioner" in a speech.
It suggests ministers hope to increase interest in the elections in November and make the posts sound more powerful by capitalising on the popularity and high profile of Mr Johnson, both among Tories and the wider public.
However last month the electorate rejected the invitation to have "a Boris in every city" by voting against directly elected mayors in nine English cities, with only Bristol supporting the plan and Doncaster deciding to keep its existing leader.
And Mrs May's comments risk reviving accusations that Mr Johnson has led to the politicisation of policing in the capital.
He was blamed for undermining Sir Ian Blair, who resigned as Met Commissioner just as the Mayor became chairman of the governing body for Scotland Yard, the Metropolitan Police Authority.
Earlier this year City Hall took over responsibility for the Met's priorities and performance as the MPA was abolished.
However the Government insists the introduction of elected police chiefs, its flagship criminal justice policy, will make forces more accountable to the public.
They will be able to hire and fire chief constables, set a plan for tackling crime and then hold forces to account.
It is hoped that the Commissioners, who will earn as much as £100,000 a year even if they work part-time, will also join forces with town halls and health boards to tackle the problems that matter most to local residents.
Mrs May writes today: "If you want to see the benefits of having a directly-elected local figure in charge of policing, then you just need to look to London.
"Boris Johnson has put more police on the streets, increased police visibility and introduced innovative policies like the new sobriety scheme.
"Boris also shows how an elected individual can stand up for their community's interests: he might have been elected Mayor as a Conservative, but that hasn't stopped him from telling us when he disagrees with the Government - and we can expect the same of Police and Crime Commissioners."
In a further attempt to raise awareness of the elections taking place in 41 areas of England and Wales on November 15th, the Home Office plans to spend £3m on an advertising campaign.
It is hoped that the radio, television and poster campaign will boost turnout in the polls and so increase the legitimacy of the crime chiefs.