How quick the memory fades.

Last week's joint effort on Deputy PCC appointments between TopOfTheCops and the Mail on Sunday seems to have struck a chord, being followed by a number of articles such as those in the Guardian and the Times and an item on yesterday's Today programme on BBC Radio 4 (1 hour and 10 minutes in), where Northamptonshire Commissioner Adam Simmonds (who isn't appointing a Deputy but has 4 interim Assistants) and the Police Foundation's Jon Collins both acquitted themselves very well.

Both accepted the need for transparency in appointments including such wild innovations as the use of advertisements, and Adam Simmonds joined a list so far populated only by Dorset Commissioner Martyn Underhill and Leicestershire Commissioner Sir Clive Loader in indicating that he didn't anticipate needing to recruit a Deputy. Many Commissioners have yet to come to a firm conclusion (23 have not proposed a Deputy) and a couple are recruiting a Deputy using open recruitment processes.

So this week TopOfTheCops has been working once again with the Mail on Sunday to explore a related issue – that of Commissioners who have enough time for another paid role, but not enough time to do without a Deputy.

Possibly the most egregious example is that of TopOfTheCops regular and Lancashire Commissioner Clive “what has he done this time” Grunshaw.

Back in May I heard a rumour that mere County Councillor Grunshaw (as he then was) had told one of Labour's internal selection hustings meetings that he intended, if elected PCC, to drop his role as Wyre Labour group leader, but to retain his roles on the County and Borough Councils and to seek re-election for them as they came due. So I asked him to confirm whether this was his intention and to elaborate on how he hoped to find time to do all the various roles he would hold.

Here is his reply:-

Hi Sam

I'm happy to confirm that the views that have been attributed to me are misleading, mischievous and inaccurate. This has not been raised with me during hustings and if it had been I would have indicated that I see the role of Police & Crime Commissioner for Lancashire as a full-time position (how could it be otherwise?).

Hope this helps?

Kind regards

Clive

The emphasis is mine but the words are his and clear enough, one might think. So how odd that, straight after the election, we see this story in the Lancashire Evening Post, “Police Chief set to stay with council” and confirmation that he has resigned his position as Wyre Labour Group leader, but will be retaining his paid roles at Lancashire County Council and Wyre Borough Council for the short term at least.

Hang on – isn't that pretty much what he denied in May? And what happened to Commissioner being a full time position and “how could it be otherwise”. There's some stuff about avoiding a by-election, except that I have separately been advised that they are not held within 6 months of an actual election, which is the case with the Commissioner's County Council seat.

Perhaps he's already feeling the pressure though, as he has decided to go with a Deputy in the form of fellow Labour activist and former Police Authority colleague Ibrahim Master, who you may remember Grunshaw was disciplined for mistreating during the Labour selection campaign.

This post was advertised in…. oh wait, no it wasn't! Grunshaw didn't have to spend a moment thinking about it as Commissioner, because he announced his choice months before he was even elected. I've worked with Ibby in the past, and suspect the Commissioner will have a higher batting average with him than without him, but Clive has clearly missed the opportunity to attract other Lancashire talent on a competitive and non-partisan basis.

I don't mind if a Commissioner thinks he needs a Deputy. It is a big job and one person is unlikely to have all the skills and time to do it effectively on their own when just one bit of the job was taken forward by 17 different people in the past. In fact, the approach that Adam Simmonds has adopted, appreciating how much is new work, and building a team up from what is demanded, seems eminently sensible (and well worth a read).

Also I understand that if someone has 6 months to go as a Councillor, it probably makes more sense to honour the commitment made when elected to that post, rather than leave those constituents unrepresented.

But I do mind if people run so many jobs together that they cannot do them effectively, or if they go back on their word by keeping roles they had promised to drop, because that diminishes both them and the many offices they hold.

Commissioners may need extra staff to do a bigger job, but who will believe this if they keep other jobs themselves? Taxpayers will be suspicious that, having paid for the Commissioner, they are having to pay again for a Deputy to cover their absence.

 

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5 Responses to How quick the memory fades.

  1. samchapman says:

    Reblogged this on Sam4Lancs.com.

  2. Colin Skelton says:

    I have, sadly, just read “Beginnings”, the irony of having a “value for money officer” in a spiralling waste of money organisation seems to be lost on the new PCC.

    The budget for Northants Police is about £120m, back of the envelope calculations by me (my maths is not good) show that this new office could cost £2m per year. And not reduce crime. Crazy!

    • Colin – how do you know they won’t reduce crime? The new assistants might make the force more efficient and effective, identifying broader issues and commissioning targeted services that impact on crime and disorder in a way that never happened previously.

      They might not, of course, but to say his investment will “not reduce crime” is unfair – give it a chance. It’s one of those “41 experiments” – perhaps in a couple of year’s time everyone will be copying this approach.

  3. Pingback: Look who’s (still) here. | TopOfTheCops.com

  4. Colin Skelton says:

    Dear Leftoflightwater

    You’ve got me, I am guilty or pre judging. I must apoligise for that. Of course some may reduce crime and some may not. What I suspect is this, And I base my view on the work of John Seddon and what he has found in the public sector (but applies to any organisation). His view is this, poor management is in large part due to the fact that we appoint managers who do not understand the issues they are in charge of. So they manage from a position of opioion, rather than knowledge. This is wasteful, and produces outcomes that are poor. His book is a great read.

    In terms of PCC’s we have done just that and elected people who by and large have little understanding of Police issues but lots of opioions. I suspect, that we will have one or two PCC’s who will make a real and substantial difference to crime. They will follow the best advice and science. They will shine. But for the majority, we will see, either no difference over a Police Authority or crime rising.

    Your suggestions that the others will follow best practice is not tenable. This happens in medicine but not in politics. You only have to read the recent “Geek manifesto” to see that politics trumps best evidence almost everytime.

    I am pessimist about the effect that PCCs will have on crime. Time will tell.

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