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9 August 2012
Responding to the decision by Senior Presiding Judge Lord Justice Golding to ban magistrates from standing for election as police and crime commissioners or serving on police and crime panels, Cllr Mehboob Khan, Chairman of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:
“Magistrates have long played a role in holding chief constables to account, setting police budgets, and setting local policing priorities. Until recently magistrates had specific places on the police authorities that police and crime commissioners are replacing. Magistrates are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds and have considerable experience of the crime and disorder issues facing the communities they work in. They have a lot they can bring to the role of police and crime commissioners. Parliament took the view that magistrates could stand for election as commissioners and we would question why the Senior Presiding Judge has decided differently.
“It is unclear what conflict of interests would prevent magistrates from serving on police and crime panels. The panel's job, as the Policing Minister has made clear, is not to grill the chief constable, but to question and scrutinise the police and crime commissioner's decisions. A number of councillors are also magistrates and they have been able to challenge the police and police authorities through local crime and disorder scrutiny committees. To now say they can't serve on panels is nonsensical.”