Updated 6 Feb 2012
Meredydd Hughes tells BBC Sheffield he will seek the Labour nomination.
The Yorkshire post reports that Meredydd Hughes, who just months ago stood down as Chief Constable of South Yorkshire is being lined up by Labour as a possible candidate for the elections for Police and Crime Commissioner in the force. Mr Hughes remains tight-lipped about whether he will stand.
This story raises a multitude of issues, as the historic structure of police pensions produces a range of recently retired senior officers below state pension age, with money in their pockets and time on their hands – or what political parties might view as ideal candidates for a full-time and self-funded campaign. Among the concerns are the following:-
– Research by Lancashire Police Authority suggests that candidates with police experience will have what most voters consider an important qualification for the job, but if a candidate has spent 30 years in the police will they be able to see life from outside “the job”. Will they represent the public or the police?
– If senior officers simply lose the uniform and walk back into the building, how are they able to scrutinise and challenge decisions made only recently by themselves?
– What is the situation like for the new Chief Constable? New broom no more? It’s difficult to start off with “the first thing I need to do is put right what the last person got wrong” when it’s the last person that you have to explain that to.
– Do you end up in effect with 2 Chief Constables? And apart from the waste of money, the police chain of command might struggle with two competing yet very similar people at the top.
– What about pensions? In most public sector jobs, politicians have qualms when people retire on Friday and start a new role on Monday, with the last job’s pension and the new job’s salary. The PCC salaries are smaller than the Chief Constable salaries for their forces – but a revolving door could create an effective pay rise. Will pensions be adjusted? This is the sort of coverage such candidates can expect.
– Is the argument that the new posts will politicise the police vulnerable should a lot of Senior Officers emerge as candidates backed by the same political party? Senior Conservatives have alleged in the police were too close to the last Labour Government – will the new elections provide evidence the Thin Blue Line is not so blue after all?
– If senior figures, after a lifetime of official impartiality, suddenly line up with a political party does this mean we have the wrong system for managing political views? Currently in many ways we ban political involvement by police officers, council workers, etc. – perhaps we would have a better result if we merely required them to register their allegiance. Then at least the community wouldn’t have to wait till their retirement to find out where people were coming from.
– Is there a general issue with people who just don’t know when or how to retire. John Prescott is not an ex-cop, but at 73 with Deputy Prime Minister under his belt, does he not feel the call of active service in the House of Lords?
– Political parties knew this election was coming, but have any of them put enough money away to afford it, and what are the consequences if they haven’t?
What do you think? Is the Police and Crime Commissioner a good retirement gig? Do revolving doors represent a real threat of politicisation? What concerns have we missed? Comment below?