Police commissioners

Police authorities are set to be scrapped under government plans announced today.

The replacement directly elected police commissioners will come into operation in 2012. The government claims the changes will dramatically improve accountability and local control of policing.

But opponents insist the proposals need more clarity as to how they will protect the operational independence of the police from political interference.

Labour has criticised the plan for being a sideshow to dramatic cuts to police funding, while the home affairs committee have questioned whether commissioners will be able to cope with their new responsibilities - which include dealing with police budgets and strategy.

The radical bill will also include changes to licensing laws to discourage heavy drinking and a new National Crime Agency to deal with organised crime and border protection.

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