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General Election 2010

Bournemouth Echo: elections banner 2010

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'Commissioner' role not finalised

Details of how police forces will be brought under the control of directly-elected individuals are yet to be finalised, the Home Secretary said.

Theresa May said the controversial role will ensure "greater democratic accountability" but how it will work in practice is still undecided.

She told members of the Police Federation in Bournemouth that the new Government will give them greater freedom and slash paperwork if they accept local accountability.

Mrs May said she "trusts" the public not to elect single-issue candidates such as members of the British National Party into the powerful role.

And she rowed back from calling it a "police commissioner", a term used by the Conservatives in the run-up to the General Election but not included in their manifesto.

Speaking to reporters after her speech, Mrs May said exact details of how the role will be introduced and work in practice are yet to be worked out.

She said: "What we want to put in to place is something that will ensure greater democratic accountability rather than bureaucratic accountability.

"That means directly-elected individuals but we also want to make sure the whole governance package is appropriate. That is why we are looking at what the whole structure should be."

Asked if the new role could lead to candidates with divisive views taking control of police, Mrs May said she trusts voters to avoid extremist views.

She said: "I believe and trust in the people in electing these individuals. Just as the people made sure they did not elect any BNP members of parliament at the election I do not think you would see any individual elected as a police commissioner, or whichever word we wish to use."

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