Weekend Update- Part, The Second – 18 March 2012


This week I received my copy of the Local Government Association’s ‘First’ magazine with a flyer for their Police and Crime Commissioner Association quoting a favourably disposed candidate from each of the major parties. Didn’t quote TopOfTheCops though, funnily enough, though there’s plenty to go at.

I object to the Local Government Association, funded by the taxpayer, spending taxpayers money to persuade PCCs themselves to spend more taxpayers money on a new association which will end up supporting the LGA which, let us remember opposed, at public expense, the elections for PCCs just a year ago. But North Yorkshire PCC hopeful Peter Walker perhaps put it best – ” I would sooner buy an extra Police Officer than pay a subscription out of taxpayers money.”

Candidates in the News

Conservative Home commented favourably on the candidacy’s of Bernard Rix in Bedfordshire, Sir Clive Loader in Leicestershire and Anthony Kimber in Sussex.

Also in Sussex, Councillor Paul Dendle was writing about a “Police levy for the Night Time economy to pay for Police“, while Independent candidate Ian Chisnall complained “attendance at Int Womens Day at BMECP in Bton to express support for womens issues thwarted by my gender“.

Peter Walker, Chris Wright and yours-truly, all ex-cops, were expressing concern at plans to release the killer of PC Nina Mackay, as authorities seemed to believe his pathological hatred of police officers could be controlled by him being situated somewhere where he would not often come into contact with them. This is the sort of issue PCCs will have to press. Irrespective of their formal powers, they will have political capital to spend.

On the Labour side Cleveland hopeful Sajaad Khan was busy asking Police and Crime Panel members to forego their allowances, giving an interview to the ‘Republic for Teeside’ and, together with Labour competitor Barry Coppinger, declaring what jobs or allowances they would give up before election. Khan is ‘drop Councillor allowance if elected’ whereas Coppinger is ‘stand down to fight’.

In the latter report, one commenter expressed concern at Cllr Coppinger’s described employment as a political assistant to Redcar and Cleveland Council. Rightly so, as this would disqualify him from being a Councillor, but on contacting Cllr Coppinger he clarified that the report was wrong- he is an ‘assistant’, not a ‘political assistant’.

Hampshire’s Jacqui Rayment cast doubt on whether she really will be a candidate when she commented “HPA transition board went well moving forward. May not like the thought of a PCC but need to prepare for this expensive mad cap idea!”

Henri Murison expressed his support for a new area in Newcastle where new clubs/pubs would be banned.

Humberside’s Keith Hunter was interviewed by Peter Levy, who apparently gave him a rougher time than a certain “heavyweight politician”, and who didn’t understand Hunter’s motivation to get the job, and to give up his Chief Superintendents salary to run for it. Adding the PCC salary to your House of Lords allowance and parliamentary pension of course are all too easy to understand.

Hunter sought to engage in some informal rule-setting for who should be PCC. “The media want celebrity PCCs because it helps them with audiences. Stand up for #substanceovercelebrity Give the public something better

Bedfordshire Conservative Richard Stay did a bit of the same thing but from a different perspective, saying “PCC’s will need to have broad community experience, we do not need more Police ‘experts’ – that is the Chief’s job!”, leading to agreement from Sajaad Khan and this sage intervention from TopOfTheCops- “When people invent rules to exclude people from PCC elections, these rules rarely exclude the people who invented them.”

Really, I’m wasted here. I could be writing fortune cookies or something.

There is an exception though – Lord Geoffrey Dear has said that PCC posts should not be filled by ex-police officers, by which he seems to mean ex-Chief Constables, of which he is one.

Back in Bedfordshire, Labour’s Olly Martin was asking “Who would want to be a police commissioner?” given how awful a job it would be (answer – he would), but Blair Gibbs responded with Thanks @OllyMartins for interesting post. Can you point me to source for Lab pledge to abolish PCCs? Important if true”

The Fat Blue Line

Mr Gibbs also pre-empted a certain Mr Winsor’s big day with an article on police reform.

The Times’ Sean O’Neill summed it all up with “Winsor2 at a glance: direct entry at Inspector level; fitness test; A-levels required to be a cop; compulsory redundancies; pension at 60

Sussex Police Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett noted that “Taking #winsor Recs 17, 18 & 19 together does that mean retired officers can return inc as direct entry Supts? Post #a19 choice for some?

Absolutely! And TopOfTheCops noted that this also applies to PCC hopefuls. If they lose, they could always be a direct entry superintendent. All the fun, no troublesome election, and a uniform.

They might have to pass a fitness test though, which some thought of as a deliberate distraction to ease other reforms past the public’s attention, and whether or not deliberate, it probably did just that. TopOfThe Cops wondered aloud “Police fitness tests. Do they still do the “shuttle run”? That was a killer. Who is liable if a fat bobby dies taking Winsor’s fitness test?” – but barrack-room lawyers there were none.

Mind you, I noted, as did the Guardian’s Alan Travis, how much of what Mr Winsor was saying boiled down to his perception that there was a need to professionalise policing, to move away from a blue-collar mentality to bring the profession to a place where someone who studied jurisprudence at Oxford could feel happy there. Wait a minute! I joined the cops after studying jurisprudence at Oxford! Is the Winsor report all about me?

Praise and flattery

I was going to say that in the last week TopOfTheCops had drawn favourable mention on ConservativeHome, Britain’s foremost Conservative grassroots website, but then it happened again. Being mentioned any given Sunday by what Ken Clarke calls Tim Montgomerie’s “blasted website” certainly makes for a lot of attention. The visitor count was hugely helped by further endorsements from Dan Hannan MEP who said “This blog on the coming police elections deserves to be far better known”, and by Douglas Carswell MP who wrote an article calling TopOfTheCops “this brilliant website”.

But if you want true praise, look at what the Electoral Commission revealed the Home Office want to do – set up a website for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections where people can find out who is standing in their area and featuring statements from each candidate. Sound familiar? As one Civil Servant (who I shall not name) tweeted of TopOfTheCops- “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” They’ve not taken up my suggestion to give me lots of cash for this domain, or for the .co.uk variation, which currently lies idle, but then I suppose I never have been keen on nationalisation.

My favourite tweet of the week, however, was off-topic and came from @politic_animal via Iain Dale – “The next Archishop MUST be from Canterbury. I’m sick of these parachuted-in candidates.”

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3 Responses to Weekend Update- Part, The Second – 18 March 2012

  1. ianchisnall says:

    Hi Sam, thanks for the mention, however the tweet was not a complaint – merely an acknowledgement of the challenges of one person representing a community which by definition are not all like him or her. The International Womens Day event is well within its rights of making it a women only event. Wanted them to know I had wanted to attend.

  2. Graham says:

    Peter Walker is up for a rude awakening should he become PCC – he’ll quickly learn that he’d stand to lose a lot more than one cop should he lose the opportunity for joint negotiation with Government.

    His comment is also very telling about his priorities going forward. Perhaps he doesn’t realise that a PCC is responsible not just for the police, but for a lot of other commissioning of crime services. So does this mean every time he has to commission, say, a DV service, he’ll say “oh we could have got a PC for that IDVA?”. What a fool!

  3. Graham says:

    Also, rumour has it the APA have launched a rival bid to run the national PCC body – so clearly there’s an anticipated demand from somewhere!

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