Remember Herod? Jewish King in Judea? Didn’t fancy the competition from the “King of the Jews” and so was all nicey-nicey with the visiting wise men before ordering all the kids to be killed? Yeah, that one.
Well, the Local Government Association have just decided to do something a bit like that with Police and Crime Commissioners, except in a different order.
In the LGA’s case they tried to kill off the Police and Crime Commissioners before they were born, while the law was still in the Lords, supporting instead a Police Commission where a tiny fraction of the Councillors in an area would choose, wouldn’t you know it, one of their own number as Commissioner, without the tedious requirement to involve the Great Unwashed electorate in any way.
That didn’t work.
So today we hear from the LGA again, in nicey-nicey mode. They have set up, they say, the “Police and Crime Commissioners Association” which will brief people before they are even elected, and induct them in the ways of local government when they are elected, which will help them network in party groups, and where they can make use of the LGA’s London offices, and provide them with ‘advice’ initially for free, though later there will be “a subscription”.
So, all of a sudden, before a single Commissioner has drawn breath, the LGA are attempting to annexe them into becoming a subset of local government. While the ‘prospectus’ talks about an ‘offer’ it also unsubtly describes the new Association as “The National Voice for PCCs”.
Excuse me. When was this decided? And by whom? So far only the Mayor of London qualifies as a PCC, and the rest won’t be around for another 9 months. We don’t know who they are. They don’t know who they are. So they sure aren’t in a position to decide that what they really want to do is shore up the LGA, and shack up with an organisation whose mandate frankly pales in comparison with what the Commissioners will have to offer.
Will the dying Association of Police Authorities rise like a phoenix with an alternative to offer? Will the Home Office get round to having a plan? Or maybe, just maybe, the new Commissioners won’t want to be herded into party groups, won’t need advice from anyone other than their own staff, and might prefer localism to be, well, local, instead of London-based, and fresh and new and not the same old vested interests who tried to legislate those very Commissioners out of existence only months ago. In which case describing your new effort as “the National Voice for PCCs” might just come across as a tiny bit presumptuous.
Potential Commissioners, do not be seduced. Your new charges will tell you that when someone offers you the first one for free, they are usually pushing an addictive substance that will screw you up. The LGA even has a hard time persuading Councils to shell out their exorbitant ‘subscriptions’ – yes, this isn’t £25 a year and less for the low-paid – these fees are measured in the tens of thousands. Just say ‘No’, and become the best that you can be.