Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice

Letting In The Light.

Northumbria’s Police & Crime Commissioner has been leading the way in helping inform the public about the work of Labour Police & Crime Commissioners.

In association with the Fabian Society, Britain’s oldest political think tank which was established in 1884, a collection of essays have been put together which highlights how democracy can bring the police closer to the public.


‘Letting in the Light: Lessons from Labour’s police and crime commissioners’, was edited by Northumbria’s Police & Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, is a collection of essays on policing and community safety from the 13 Labour Police and Crime Commissioners.

In her introduction to the report Vera Baird describes the way in which the Labour Commissioners see their role as the “elected voice of the people” bringing \’ a significant shift of power towards the public\’ Commissioners provide oversight to “challenge any tendency, in such a powerful organisation, to prefer institutional self-interest over popular need”. She highlights controversies like Hillsborough, the clash between miners and police at Orgreave in 1984 and inaccuracies around the deaths of Jean Charles de Menezes, Ian Tomlinson and Mark Duggan as having damaged trust in the police.

Labour is committed to reforming the role of commissioners but Vera Baird agrees with Lord Stevens Independent Police Commission that, whatever variant is taken on “the next Labour government should not row back on democracy in policing.” and calls on political parties to learn from the “experience of the commissioners who have been leading policy on the ground”

Vera Baird, editor of ‘Letting in the Light’, said:

“It is opportune, 18 months after the elections of November 2012, to describe what progress Labour commissioners have made.

“This is not a paean of praise for the role but an account of the hands-on experience of policing governance which the commissioners intend to contribute as the party formulates its manifesto for the 2015 general election. I am proud to be Northumbria’s Commissioner and working with the Fabians has allowed me to showcase the good work that is happening in our region in offering support for victims of sexual and domestic abuse.

“Each Labour commissioner has worked hard to get the most benefit for the public from the role, even as funding for police and community safety has been cut further and further.”

‘Letting in the Light’ also includes contributions from:

• Alun Michael (South Wales) on doing more with less, while continuing to support communities and taking a whole person view of crime
• Mark Burns-Williamson (West Yorkshire) on reinvesting the confiscated proceeds of crime in local communities
• Ron Hogg (Durham) on tackling drug addiction
• Shaun Wright (South Yorkshire) on reoffending and restorative justice
• Tony Lloyd (Greater Manchester) on supporting those suffering with mental health issues
• Clive Grunshaw (Lancashire) on early intervention and prevention
• Paddy Tipping (Nottinghamshire) on reducing alcohol related crime
• Jane Kennedy (Merseyside) on supporting victims of domestic violence
• Vera Baird (Northumbria) on embedding support for victims of sexual and domestic violence
• Alan Charles (Derbyshire) on raising the profile of wildlife crime
• Bob Jones (West Midlands) on working in partnership to reduce transport crime
• Olly Martins (Bedfordshire) on joint working between police forces
• Barry Coppinger (Cleveland) on the wide range of activities of a police and crime commissioner

‘Letting in the Light’ is dedicated to Bob Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, who contributed to the pamphlet before he passed away in July 2014

Link to the essays –