Vote will be crucial to future of police
AS the interest in the mayoral election grows it is important that none of us forgets the other vote that will take place on the same day. That is the election of the first police commissioner for Avon and Somerset.
In practical terms it represents the greatest change in the way our police force will be run for well over a generation.
Following the election one person will take the place of a police authority or committee of 17.
And whilst the successful candidate will not be directing police officers he or she will wield considerable power.
In theory he or she could sack the chief constable or divert money to whatever project they wished.
In practice, however, there will be a panel of people, ironically very similar in make up to the current police authority, which will act as a check on any excess.
But there is no doubt that this election marks a sea change in the way the police force is governed.
And the relationship between the winning contender and the chief constable will be crucial.
If it works well it could result in quicker and more efficient decision making.
If not it could lead to a battle of personalities that could hinder the operation of the entire force.