Weekend update – 10 March 2012

Part-timers, writing and Super Thursday?

Patrick Burns wrote an article on November’s Police and Crime Commissioner and Mayoral elections, which was chiefly notable for being the first use of the term ‘Super Thursday’ in relation to these elections. Remember, it’s not American enough already.

Paul Richards, a hopeful for the Labour nomination in Sussex, wrote this piece about the memorials for fallen police officers, in the wake of the tragic death of PC David Rathband.

Theresa May decided that PCCs should not have their pay docked if they kept other roles on election, which brought out a lot of criticism in regional and local press, who by and large are now saying how scandalous it is that this should be a part-time job. Candidates scrambled to declare how full-time they would be, leading one person to ask Paul Richards if getting elected meant that he would stop writing.

However, if the second job is Council Leader, then Policing Minister Nick Herbert is opposed due to a conflict of interest. This raises issues for any Council Leaders thinking of going for the PCC job. He also said that PCCs would need a national representative body, and that it was up to PCCs to decide whether this should be the one set up by the LGA. TopOfTheCops has already expressed doubt as to whether PCCs would want to weaken their mandate with the LGA that tried to abort the PCC posts in utero.

Readers of Police Professional were treated to the shadow justice minister admitting that Police and Crime Commissioners will be here for a while. David Hanson MP noted that if an incoming 2015 Labour government wanted to change the system, they probably couldn’t get it done in time for the next PCC elections in 2016. Mr Hanson is clearly a wise man, as he now has some insulation against domestic strife should Mrs Hanson get to be Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner in North Wales as she hopes.

New Candidates

John Norrie announced he would be standing as an Independent for Police and Crime Commissioner in Northamptonshire and quickly joined the swelling ranks of Candidates who have provided a Candidate Statement through TopOfTheCops.com. This week these have included a brace of Labour hopefuls, from Les Byrom in Merseyside, Paul Cannon in South Wales, Chris Maughan in Lancashire, and both Sajaad Khan and Barry Coppinger in Cleveland. These join those we had already – Bob Jones from the West Midlands, Ian Chisnall (Independent) from Sussex, and Keith Hunter from Humberside.

Councillor Matthew Grove became the first Conservative to declare his interest in running for Police and Crime Commissioner in Humberside. There has been a bit of a spat between Policy Exchange’s Blair Gibbs and Lord Prescott as to whether it is proper to refer to ‘Humberside’ given that it split into smaller Councils a few years ago. Either way the position he is standing for is still governing ‘Humberside’ Police.

Shona Johnsone declared her interest in the Conservative nomination in Cambridgeshire, as did George Beckett for Hampshire.

Shaun Wright confirmed the speculation that he would compete for the Labour nomination in South Yorkshire, and Derby Councillor Hardyal Dhindsa declared his intention to run for Labour in Derbyshire.

Politics and Policing

Frequent PCC commentator Jon Harvey argued for openly political Police commissioners in Left Foot Forward, marking an interesting development on the party line, and a recognition that policing is political already. Why can’t Labour politicians remember the time when they suggested elected Police Authorities back when Jacqui WhatsHerName was Home Secretary? Harvey’s readership didn’t need much encouragement to think of all kind of politics they would like to introduce into policing. How long until Conservatives remember why they were not fond of the idea of local politicians controlling policing in the 1980s?

The Leveson inquiry continued to churn out nuggets, not least of which was the Blair on Blair, where former Met Commissioner Lord Blair said that Tony Blair’s “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” marked the beginning of the politicisation of the police, and that he didn’t think the genie could be put back in the bottle.

Policing and Privatisation

There was a continued and largely fruitless debate about private-sector involvement in policing, which provides a good opportunity for wannabee Labour candidates to win points for being the most anti-private-sector in the run up to the selection of candidates by Labour party members, even though the debate is a bit of a difficult one for Labour to express surprise about, as the BBC’s Mark Easton noted.

The interesting insights in this debate come from the Institute of Government’s Tom Gash, who queries whether police forces currently have the skills to deal with the massive contracts being talked about, and also via Policy Exchange’s Blair Gibbs in a series of tweets, highlighting an article from the Financial Times’ Jonathan Guthrie – the idea being that, as the private sector provides employment for a lot of police officers who retire very early on pensions, and whose salaries are not abated, there is a form of subsidy for private policing through the police pension system in these cases. I shall now batten down the hatches while readers who are cops complain that they’ve had to pay quite a lot of money for their pensions, thank you very much, until the implications of that point are appreciated!

As further proof of Labour’s mobility on the private sector, Blackburn Labour Councillor Malcolm Doherty defended the decision of Lancashire Police Authority, which he chairs, to provide private health care to Lancashire’s ACPO team and the Chief Executive of the Police Authority.

In other news…

Moldova approved the mandatory castration of paedophiles, whether foreign or domestic. But it’s only chemical castration. Bloody liberals!

…and finally, I made a joke about my favourite feature of the new iPad, and no-one laughed :-(

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5 Responses to Weekend update – 10 March 2012

  1. jonsharvey says:

    A good round up Sam – you will need to have regional staff once the campaign proper starts!

    To respond to your comment about my piece in Left Foot Forward – I was not so much arguing ~for~ openly political PCCs but in saying that policing is already political, I was arguing ~against~ independents who keep their political views hidden.

    As if to underline my point, I sat next to a Liberal Democrat party member the other evening who told me he was considering standing for his local council election on an independent ticket in a ward that was known to be mostly Tory. He reckoned he was in with a chance. I said that would be dishonest and would fail what we might call the ‘Ronseal test’ – he would not be what the ballot paper said on the tin… He countered and said that it is the job of all councillors to represent all their constituents and therefore being an independent would affirm this. I said on that basis there should be no party labels for parliamentary elections either…

    Don’t worry – I won’t report the whole conversation here – but you get my point. Given the sensitive nature of policing – no PCC candidate should fail the Ronseal test, in my view.

    Re privatisation – I won’t repeat all the debate here. However I would highlight a mostly overlooked clause in the Police & Social Reform Act. I can’t claim to have studied the Act in detail, but it is my understanding that Chief Constables are now legal entities in their own right and can enter into legal contracts without the need to get the PA chair to sign them off (which was the position, I believe). I assume this means that decisions on outsourcing are ones that the senior operational management of the force can legally take without the political leadership (PCC) having to approve or even be involved… ??? Perhaps some constitutional expert / PA Chief Exec might like to comment here…?

    Of course the conflict over a similar issue was never tested. Best Value was owned by the PA – and had a BV review recommended (say) the outsourcing of the dogs’ section – but which the CC refused on operational independence grounds – it was never established in a court of law whose view would take precedence. Given that PCCs will be elected after political campaigns and will continue to be lobbied on that basis (I imagine) – I suspect that the whole issue of privatisation and who can sign up to what will not be going away any time soon…

    PS – I have recently acquired an Android tablet – I don’t need such sensors…

  2. jonsharvey says:

    PS – I do not quite understand your comment “Why can’t Labour politicians remember the time when they suggested elected Police Authorities…” – this was the Labour Party policy in the 2010 manifesto – I would very surprised if any Labour PCC contender did not remember this fact.

    • samchapman says:

      Thanks for your comments John.
      My point on elections is simply that it has been played out as if the idea of elections for the body that governs local policing were abhorrent, when the truth is more complex (or perhaps you would say “more complicated”).
      Your position that politics has its place actually has more of a history than many people let on.

      • jonsharvey says:

        Again – I would say – that I hope that any serious candidates for PCCs have some knowledge of the history of governance of policing – which is key in understanding the contribution that the police make to civil society. I also hope that they have an understanding of the political landscape in which policing has been operating for decades – if not forever.

  3. Pingback: Weekend Update Part 1 – 24 March 2012 | TopOfTheCops.com

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