PAUL Bullen’s letter (‘Toughen up sentencing’, October 17) indicates that he doesn’t understand the role of Police and Crime Commissioners once they are elected.

Sentencing tariffs are the responsibility of government and, according to the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, a court must follow any relevant sentencing guidelines unless it is contrary to the interests of justice to do so.

Sentencing guidelines help judges and magistrates decide the appropriate sentence for a criminal offence, and the Sentencing Council is responsible for preparing and monitoring the guidelines, with the aim of ensuring greater consistency in sentencing throughout England and Wales.

It will not become the responsibility of Police and Crime Commissioners, and it is disingenuous of Mr Bullen to suggest otherwise, in his obvious attempt to attract votes.

Moreover, he has stated that he cannot be sure how he would spend the constabulary's budget, but would "look at it from a business perspective," whatever that means.

Advocating a "zero tolerance police force" is all very well, but placing so much power in the hands of one individual is dangerous and open to abuse.

I'm not suggesting that there has been an abuse of their powers by the Cambridgeshire Constabulary, but we have all been made aware of the serious shortcomings, and indeed the criminal behaviour, of some members of the police throughout the country in recent years, and the ineffectiveness of the so-called Independent Police Complaints Commission to keep the police in check on our behalf.

The old system of having a police authority was not without its shortcomings; in particular that so many members of the authority were also magistrates, which led to an obvious conflict of interest in the magistrates' courts, but at least there was some safety in numbers.

In the final analysis, we need to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner possessed of considerable intellect and integrity, and not one who is already confused about the responsibilities of the role, and who is relying on much-used sound-bites to get our vote.

BRYN HAVORD

St Ann's Lane

Godmanchester