Communities will soon have the opportunity to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for their area.

In the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, home secretary Theresa May outlined the local elections that will take place in May 2012 to nominate commissioners that will replace Police Authorities.

The commissioners will be able to set local policing priorities, have a wider role in community safety and hold chief constables to account, removing them if necessary.

It is hoped the new PCCs will ensure greater public engagement in policing and that communities have a powerful local representative who can help in the fight against crime.

May said: "These measures will place the public back at the heart of the drive to cut crime. For too long, the fight against crime has been tangled up in a web of centrally imposed red tape that has driven a wedge between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve."

The Bill will also allow the creation of Police and Crime Panels, to ensure the voice of local communities is being reflected in PCCs' actions.