Police reform plans to be unveiled

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Plans for the most radical reforms to policing in 50 years are due to be published

Plans for the most radical reforms to policing in 50 years are due to be published.

Home Secretary Theresa May wants to put locally-elected police and crime commissioners in charge of multimillion-pound force budgets in an attempt to hand power back to the public.

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill will also detail the tougher action the Government plans to take to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder, which costs the taxpayer up to £13 billion each year.

Mrs May said the proposals aim to transfer power back to the people, with the first elections of the new commissioners, responsible for hiring and firing chief constables as well as setting out the force’s strategic plan, set for May 2012.

A new National Crime Agency will also replace the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which was heralded as “Britain’s FBI” when it was launched by Labour in 2006, with the aim of tackling organised crime and protecting the UK’s borders.

The overhaul of licensing laws will also help communities reclaim high streets for “sensible law-abiding drinkers”, Mrs May said. The plans will give communities greater flexibility to find a solution that suits them, dealing with irresponsible premises while allowing late-night drinking where it is wanted, she added.

Proposals include tougher penalties for serving under-age drinkers, with fines doubling to £20,000 for persistent offenders, and a late-night levy to allow licensing authorities to charge premises which open late for the additional policing.

It comes after the Government outlined plans to increase tax on high-strength beers while decreasing duty for lower strengths on Tuesday.

The Association of Police Authorities, which represents the authorities that will be replaced by the new commissioners, called for a full risk assessment to be carried out “with the utmost urgency”.

Rob Garnham, APA chairman, said: “We have yet to see what level of support there is for this particular proposal. Our worry is that we see very little indeed, yet the Government marches relentlessly on.”

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