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Police reform: from police authorities to police and crime commissioners

Peter Joyce (Principal Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Safer Communities

ISSN: 1757-8043

Article publication date: 10 October 2011




The purpose of this paper is to consider the background of the proposal contained in the coalition government's Police and Social Responsibility legislation to replace police authorities with directly elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) and to evaluate the potential problems that will arise from this reform.


The research is library‐based, utilising a range of primary and secondary sources. The objectives of the research are addressed by examining a number of key themes: the creation of police authorities; the evolution of police authorities; the target regime; consequences of increased central control over policing; the Community Empowerment agenda; the reform of police authorities; the 2010 coalition government and PCCs; problems posed by PCCs; and the progress of reform.


The research established that the role performed by police authorities in the governance of policing was in need of reform, in particular because of their inability to ensure that local concerns were adequately addressed by their police forces. However, it is argued that replacing an authority with one single person possessing considerable powers over policing poses significant dangers which include the potential of this reform to politicise the police.


The paper presents a detailed analysis of a key aspect of coalition government policing policy and seeks to establish that what is proposed contains serious weaknesses which must be addressed in order to provide for a workable system of police governance. It is of relevance to those engaged in delivering policing, crime prevention and community safety agendas.



Joyce, P. (2011), "Police reform: from police authorities to police and crime commissioners", Safer Communities, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 5-13.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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