Who Guards the Guardians?

Police governance. Not the sexiest of topics, is it? Not that I imagine you find yourself on the website of a Police and Crime Commissioner because you are looking for something to set your pulse racing.

But it is an important one. We’ve been grappling with it since Plato posed similar questions in the fourth century BC. Part of my job as the first Commissioner in Dyfed Powys, in many ways the most important part of it, is to establish a way for people to hold their police to account. That is, to govern their police.

We have had elections. That’s the first part. Now we need a way for people to witness the decisions their public servants make and to make their voices heard. Good governance must last beyond one election. People must be able to see and understand what they are voting on. We need a settled decision-making structure with clear lines of responsibility overseeing the police and providing accountability to the public.

That is what I am proposing in this Discussion Paper.

These are the first thoughts about how decisions should be made. I want people to see how decisions are reached, not just what comes out at the end. These are vital considerations in an age where we have access to limitless information and where trust in institutions is shaky at best, as I wrote in my last post. Building trust and reputation requires unprecedented openness in the internet age.

These are draft thoughts and I welcome comments here or at [email protected]. We’ve still got lots to discuss and the system will evolve over time, but we must make a start.

And, for those still hoping for something to quicken their pulse, a quick look at Wikipedia will tell you that “quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (who guards the guardians) appears in Juvenal’s Satire in the first century AD. His concern? Enforcing morality on women when the men who guard them are so easily corrupted. There’s more sex here than you might have thought.

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