Editor’s Note:- Yes, it’s me, Sam Chapman, seeking to be the Conservative candidate for Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, with more at Sam4Lancs.com
It was a simple decision, though not an easy one. Having spent 12 years managing Community Safety Partnerships I was, like most of those who do that kind of thing, employed by a local authority. I had extricated myself from the political restrictions on local government officers that would normally present a problem, but then I found that the legislation establishing Police and Crime Commissioners contained a clause that meant that a Council officer could not stand for the job – no arguments, ingenuity, or appeals to committees would get past this. If I wanted to run for the new job, I would have to give up the old one.
This would mean standing down from leading a multi-agency team with a lot of highly-committed and well-performing staff, and all the reflected glory that entails. It would mean that for the first time in many years my day job would not be to make sure that crime fell in a particular area. It would mean that, at the very moment my wife had finally mastered how to say my job title and tell friends a bit about what I actually did, all those years of struggle would lose their value, and we would have to start again.
And then there’s the question of trading a relatively secure job that paid well enough to meet my growing family commitments, for an unpredictable income, rendered very low in the immediate run-up to the election due to the full-time nature of a countywide campaign. I had seen other people give up years of employment to try and bring change to their area through one political campaign or another, only for electoral rejection that could not possibly have been personal to take its toll. So why would I do that, and in an area where there are plenty of other candidates to choose from, and an uphill battle for my preferred party to win?
I think it’s a decision I had made already, many years before, in my last year at university. As I was preparing for graduation, various friends and acquaintances were preparing to head off to an American university here, a management consultancy there, or to various careers that would combine well with their parliamentary ambitions. I went home and joined the police. To me this was more socially and personally valuable than those other things. When you do that job you don’t need to worry about some abstract contribution to society that you might be making – you see the results pretty much straight away, and you go home knowing whether you’ve helped a victim, hindered a criminal, and generally made the place a bit safer. It was the right thing to do, as well as being far more fun.
So, years later, having acquired a working knowledge of the various problems and frustrations you have when you’re trying to cut crime, a position opens up which seems to provide the biggest opportunity for actually doing something about those problems with that knowledge. To me at least, every one of my experiences in life seems to have prepared me for this role so, despite the likelihood of not getting it and the personal impact that would have, it seemed it would almost be a crime not to have a go.