The public will be given a new chance to vote directly for members of the bodies which oversee police forces, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has said.
It would be the first time voters have had such a direct influence on police authorities, which are currently made up of local councillors and other members such as magistrates.
Ms Smith (Redditch) indicated the current structure of police authorities would be retained, with additional members elected by a vote. “I think there is a strong benefit in ensuring that there is a directly elected element to police authorities,” she said at the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) annual conference in Liverpool.
There should be a “strong element” in the organisations which is directly voted for by the public, while retaining links with local councils, the Home Secretary said on Tuesday.
“We will retain the role for councillors in police authorities and also maintain a role for independents alongside that,” she said.
Ms Smith promised there would be more detail in the Home Office’s Green Paper on police reform, due in two weeks.
“I want to work with you to improve your ability to perform your role by linking you more closely to the people you serve, through direct election,” she told delegates, including many police authority members.
It was no longer acceptable that members were elected “by proxy”, she added.
Conservatives had proposed a more radical shake-up of the way police forces are supervised.