Earlier this week a nice man from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) rang me up while I was driving. I carefully pulled in to the side of the road, officer, and took the call.
Together with the Association of Police Authorities, they are having a big conference in Manchester from 22-24 May called ‘Leading Change in Policing’ and, on the middle day, are opening it up to outsiders in the form of prospective PCCs. It will be a bit like when the local Freemasons let people come in and have a peek at their halls. Possibly with many of the same faces, come to think of it…
Anyway, the nice man wanted to know whether, as I had a blog that quite a lot of candidates and the like read, would I mind advertising it for them…
I waited the appropriate amount of time, but financial inducement came there none. However, I’m always keen to keep taxes low, so I said yes, and er, this post is that said advertisement for that said conference.
I had a brief conversation with the nice man and established that prospective PCCs would need to pay to come to the conference, but I did not ascertain how much. I advised him that precious few prospective PCCs would have been formally selected as candidates by their party, and would lack the resources of a large organisation on which to call, unlike the other attendees at the conference, and that even those selected by the parties probably couldn’t squeeze the money out of them.
Later in the week, ACPO took to Twitter to further advertise the same event, at which point inquisitive wannabe candidates established that the cost for attendance would be…
…wait for it…
It didn’t go down well with candidates
The Local Government Association, who are trying to hook prospective PCCs into an LGA-affiliated Police and Crime Commissioners Association, spotted an opportunity, and swooped in
which resulted in firm responses from yours truly
ACPO tried to save the day, with a staff member pointing out
and that it was
But yours truly thought that
This last reference to ACPO’s current scandal around procuring costly consultancy arrangements with former members of, er, ACPO, was apparently too much!
Those of you dedicated enough to read down past all the twittering are rewarded with a special bonus…
In my chat with the nice-man I also established that some PCCs will be able to escape the fee by being invited to be a panelist at a session in the conference.
When I heard this I again waited the appropriate amount of time, but panelist invitation came there none. Apparently ACPO don’t want to mess with any implied backing involved in selecting the candidates, so have asked the political parties to do it for them, and for Independents have approached the LGA (grrr!).
I pointed out that, as Labour have a grand total of 3 selected candidates, and no other party has any, that this caused a problem for the parties, because it would mean treating some candidates differently from others, while they were still going through a selection process with those candidates, but again to no avail.
So. What’s the right thing to do?
Is Bernard right? Steer well clear of any potentially contaminating cosy relationship?
For me it’s an academic point. If £267 became free, I have plenty of kids who can find a better use for it, and this post probably blows my chances of a free place. I think Peter Walker has a point – what is there to add to what a good local briefing would cover?
But to be honest, I think PCCs need to be made of fairly stern stuff, and I’m always open to the possibility of finding out something new, and of gathering some tales about top cops for my devoted readers, so in this hypothetical world, I’d go, and shout about it so no-one later could suggest there was something bad being done in secret. But that would be in preference to the ‘free’ LGA do, which you really will have to pay for in time, as I don’t think they will be in as good a position to brief candidates, and I remain open to the possibility that someone else could come up with something fresh, bespoke and more useful to candidates than these events which are not mainly directed at them and where the host organisations may retain a latent hostility to their unwelcome presence.