Richard Hibbs is at today’s big conference

On the eve of the Great PCC Debate at ACPO, who is currently trying to do what to whom?

by Richard Hibbs, Independent Candidate for Police & Crime Commissioner in North Wales

The Local Government Association, as previously featured on TopOfTheCops, says it wants to give PCCs a strong voice via a new Police Executive Board, with a “prestigious leadership development programme” thrown into the bargain.

This rather misses the point of having PCCs in the first place, in at least two rather obvious ways:

Firstly, it is PCCs that are supposed to be the voice of the communities they represent, not a new committee in London. That is why we are having elections, and a key issue in North Wales where we are hoping to get our hands on proper devolved powers for once, not have to rely on a remote politician in Cardiff.

And secondly, candidates without existing well-developed leadership skills frankly need not apply. It’s simply not credible to expect an LGA trainer to instil the kind of charisma and prophetic vision that communities will come to expect from their elected representative on earth.

The LGA offer is taking shape fairly rapidly, so how come the design of their product still looks a bit suspect? Perhaps because LGA don’t yet fully appreciate that elected PCCs will at least 100 times as important as local councillors in constitutional terms (due to the size of the constituencies and their democratic mandate) and will therefore have a pretty loud voice which will carry all the way to Westminster anyway without amplification. Plus they’ll be able to say no to the Home Office if, in consultation with the Chief Constable, they don’t wish to “have regard to” aspects of the Strategic Policing Requirement they simply don’t believe in (whatever ACPO thinks!).

LGA could sensibly provide a platform for organisations who want to lobby PCCs to get their agenda into 41 Police and Crime Plans simultaneously, like Victim Support for example who are understandably anxious about how to get their message across (or indeed the Home Secretary, or even ACPO) but such a lobbying service would work in the opposite direction to the service LGA are promoting. If so, the LGA offer should probably be aimed at national stakeholder organisations rather than PCCs.

Meanwhile, ACPO are understandably keen to stress who they’d like to stay in charge and who they’d like to sideline after 15 November by running their Leading Change in Policing event this week in Manchester (the clue’s in the title). If they really wanted PCCs to take centre stage at their conference (or indeed after the election) the ‘invitations’ to talk about changes in policing would have been issued weeks and weeks ago.

Obviously belatedly offering 5 free places to PCC candidates via the LGA was a welcome concession, and a nice illustration of the lobbying principle I’ve set out above. The realisation had clearly dawned by the end of last week that charming PCC candidates into participating in tomorrow’s debate in order to impress the Home Secretary with a collegial approach might be a good idea. But too little and too late was the cry from candidates like myself who already have other commitments this week.

Instead I’ve been attending the World Federation Against Drugs conference in Stockholm – and I’ll be bringing back some fantastic drug enforcement policies in my suitcase. Which I will of course be very careful to pack myself.



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7 Responses to Richard Hibbs is at today’s big conference

  1. Sector Inspector says:

    People seem to be missing one key point. The LGA is the body representing local councillors. The people who will be on Police and Crime Panels – i.e. the scutiny body of PCCs. The phrase ‘conflict of interest’ springs to mind!

  2. Sceptical of PCC's says:

    And secondly, candidates without existing well-developed leadership skills frankly need not apply.
    Err… have you seen the current crop ?

  3. Graham Nelson says:

    To suggest that any new PCC won’t need any training and development strikes me as arrogant and absurd. Who wouldn’t want to be a better leader?

    As for PCCs being “100 times more important than cllrs”, well PCCs only have one job – to hold the CC to account (NOT run the force) whilst cllrs are responsible for an enormous range of issues, from housing to social care to waste to parks, public health and many things besides. A chief constable is important. A PCC is not.

    • Hi Graham
      I see you don’t agree with my analysis of where PCCs fit into the grand scheme of things. Given that they have what amount to personal tax-raising powers and that on a £ for £ basis they will probably spend about 50 times more than the average cllr (also that Chief Constables won’t even be able to open a bank account without their permission) I wonder whether you might be prepared to revise your opinion?!
      My point is simply that leadership skills are more important the further up the food chain you get.

      • Graham Nelson says:

        I wouldn’t equate money with power – and a big city mayor will have a larger budget than any PCC. I also think that once the SPR and core policing is accounted for, PCCs will find they have a lot less financial flexibility than they might hope for.

        The key here is the Government’s real intention – to hand accountability (not the same as power) to PCCs so that when the force mess up (as keeps happening), the finger gets pointed at the PCC, not the Home Office. Sneaky.

  4. Pingback: Definitive List of PCC candidates 2012 |

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