Police reform

There is a lobby of parliament today by the Association of Police Authorities (APA). The Government wants to merge the current police forces into fewer but larger police forces. Almost everyone is against this.

Labour state that it is to plug a gap that appeared during the Soham murders where a local force did not have the specialist capability to deal with the investigation – and argue that a larger police force would have the capacity. But a smaller force can always bring in such specialist skills when needed. And what we know is that Safer Neighbourhood Teams and local policing work – work in terms of intelligence, in terms of public visibility and so on. In other words – local services, delivered close to the people they are meant to serve, work best. Labour’s proposals centralise the controls of forces – just going the wrong way. And as ever – this nonsense will cost millions and millions and millions.

So the APA have come to see me to put their case against the Government proposals. I am with them on this. There will be an opposition day debate on this next week in Parliament.

The Lib Dem leadership contest rolls on – an my boy Huhne is definitely coming up on the rails – overtaking even Simon Hughes now in the betting. Having taken an hour’s questions from Stroud Green Residents’ Association I get home just in time to listen to the special Any Questions being held in Richmond. They all did pretty well I thought. What is very striking is that following the first hustings, where Chris laid out some key themes around eco-taxes, taking the low-paid out of tax, localism and so on – the others are now singing the same song. I guess this is how it goes. I remember the Mayoral contest in London last time – where Ken and Steve (Norris – in case you’ve forgotten) apart from a couple of issues largely took our ideas.

In fact, it made me laugh today when I heard that Ken is going to allow an extra day to pay on the congestion charge. I first floated that one even before the Mayoral contest – and Ken pooh-poohed it publicly at many an Assembly. But now it will happen! So – look out for Oxford Street to be humanised and for GPS to come to bus management instead of CountDown and AVL!

Simon sounded a bit lacklustre – probably explained later by a text around 10pm saying Simon would be in the tabloids next day. Who says Liberal Democrats are dull?