Peter Kilfoyle is on the shortlist for the Labour nomination to be the Police and Crime Commissioner in Merseyside. If you are intending to stand to be Police and Crime Commissioner where you live, you can submit your own Candidate Statement, so get in touch at Editor@TopOfTheCops.com – Others are on the way, and we are looking for 400 words, a photo (of you!) that you have rights to, and preferably an imprint, which will be needed for the formal election period later this year.
The role of Police and Crime Commissioner is still a work in progress. Between now and November when the elections for the post are held, much of the missing detail will be slotted in by the government. Notwithstanding the apparent imprecision of the government’s take on the role, the legislation, and the Home Office guidance to date, sets out some clear guidelines for what will make a successful commissioner.
Commissioners will need the patience of a saint, if not the fatalism of a martyr, to deal with the competing interests under his or her gaze. Obviously, there is the police force itself, and, within it, the often fractious relations between senior management and rank-and-file officers. Let us remember, too, the often ignored support staff – on Merseyside, nearly 40% of the total workforce. This is before the commissioner consults with outside bodies.
That means both voluntary and statutory agencies, alongside the local authorities , who will undoubtedly seek to exercise maximum influence, given the Commissioner’s power to set the policing precept. Additionally, there will be all sorts of initiatives open to the Commissioner’s largesse with the funding at his or her disposal. Existing projects may find their funding under threat, whilst there will be new calls for resourcing as cuts dig ever deeper into existing lines of public funding.
Such a complex situation will not be comfortable for the faint-hearted. Despite the beliefs of some, the Commissioner will not be a glorified Chair of the police authority as we currently know it. He or she replaces the whole authority, representing the interests of their entire communities, and, critically, holding the police force to account on their behalf.
Thus, the successful candidate will not only need the negotiating skills which comes from experience at the highest level, he or she will require the personal courage and conviction to take on powerful vested interests in ensuring that their community gets the active policing and crime reduction which is the commissioner’s raison d’être.
I honestly believe that I have the qualities required for this exacting job. More importantly, many Labour Party colleagues feel the same way, and are giving me their support. I would be nobody’s puppet in the role: but I would be a tireless and committed advocate for all of the communities on Merseyside, ensuring that their interests are paramount when it comes to policing and crime reduction.