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Police commissioners - battlegrounds for party politics?

Michael Crick | 18:09 UK time, Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Will the elections for new police commissioners, outlined by the Home Secretary Theresa May earlier this week, become battlegrounds for party politics?

There will be many in police circles - and no doubt politics too - hoping they don't, and that the job attracts independent figures, free of strong party ties. People like Ray Mallon, perhaps, the former policeman who became mayor of Middlesbrough.

Labour refused to tell Newsnight this week whether they plan to contest the commissioner elections on a party basis. It's a "hypothetical" question, their spokesman insisted.

"I couldn't say for sure," said a Lib Dem spokeswoman, "but it seems logical that if it goes ahead we would be putting people forward."

And the British National Party is certainly planning to go for the new posts.

"When the time comes of course we will be doing so," the BNP spokesman Paul Golding told us.

"As the only party that is truly tough on crime we would definitely putting up candidates to such posts and would anticipate that due to our crime policies our candidates would find much support."

And if the BNP stands I suspect that will force the hands of other parties, simply through fear that independents, with the benefit of no party machines, might be beaten by the BNP.

So the commissioner elections would then become another round of party warfare.

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