Today was the day where I would have been keeping you up to date with the developments at the ACPO/APA conference day on PCCs, but it was not to be. Firstly ACPO and co. wanted £267 for me or any other would-be PCC to turn up today. They think we have money. By and large we don’t. Then after a slight kerfuffle that I may have been involved in, the price was reduced to £125. I didn’t find that convincing for something that was ‘mutually beneficial’, so I stayed away.
However, I had kept the day free in case ACPO finally saw sense, so we made good use of it by taking the kids to a nearby farm, where we all enjoyed ourselves, soaked up too much sun, and learnt about all the animals.
What I picked up while there, imperfectly, at a distance, and through the medium of my iPhone, was that some of the advice being handed out was about how police chiefs are not used to being involved in elections and needed to be very careful, particulary around treating candidates equally.
Which all seems a bit ironic, given that it would have been heard by…
…PCC candidates who are members of Police Authorities, who were using taxpayers’ money for them to attend and gain this insight on this important new role…
…a panelist chosen by their political party as a candidate, who attends for free…
…someone sent by their party as a panelist, even though that political party has not yet selected a candidate in their area, and who therefore has competitors both within and without, who attends for free…
…someone who picked themselves as a candidate, who attends for free…
… Never mind anyone who paid £267, anyone who paid £125, anyone who is currently a Chief Police Officer with a ‘cunning plan’ for a career change, anyone who accepted the places the LGA had for Independents (what about Independents who don’t associate with the LGA?), and of course excluding everyone who was a candidate who wouldn’t pay or play along.
Yes. Police chiefs were told how important it was to treat candidates equally at the very conference where they were failing to do just that.
Another thing I noted was that Bernard Hogan-Howe told police chiefs it was SUMO time – time for them to Shut Up and Move On on the topic of whether we should have PCCs. Personally, I think it was innappropriate for them to have ever done anything else.
We also learned two other important points:-
1) that Chief Constables are being advised not to have meetings with candidates. That certainly is the case in my own area, as can be seen here.
2) As Mick Thwaites put it “Good first session,#acpoconference,just told I am a nobody, until I hand over cash,and get 100 misguided individuals to sign my application!“
I must raise my hands and plead guilty here. I use the term ‘candidate’ on this site rather loosely, to refer to people who are trying to get their party’s nomination, to those who have succeeded and to those who say they want to run. But no-one is legally a candidate until they are nominated- with £5,000 and 100 signatures.
But if you put those 2 facts together, what is a Chief Constable to do?
If no-one is a candidate then there is no-one you have to treat equally – you can do what you want till mid-October, can’t you?
Or alternatively, almost everyone is a potential candidate, so if you are a Chief Constable who isn’t meeting candidates, then you can’t really meet anyone, lest they turn into a candidate in the next few months.
Welcome to ‘equality’. It isn’t fairness. It’s what currently and bizarrely passes for it in ‘PC’ world.
I’m thinking the farm was a better use of a day.
Hate to be a pedant, but I think it was Bernard Hogan Howe who made the SUMO comment rather than Hugh Orde (e.g. see https://twitter.com/ngargan_npia/status/205216544693825536)
Thank-you, Jon. This will make no sense to readers, as I will now amend it accordingly – part of the problem of commenting from a distance. I have no criticism to make of BHH in this regard, unless someone tells me different.
Some good and valid points here Sam – perhaps a bit negative towards Independents. They may be self appointed but unlike Political Parties that have pooled budgets, they are taking personal responsibility for any costs incurred.
Main purpose of my comment though is that even if I was ready with the £5k (personally I am £1,080 short of my target) and the 100 signatures (I do at least have the list of names) there is no form available and the returning officer could not accept it. The only thing that prevents this getting going, over and above my £1,080 is the Government who are not wanting us to swear an oath that they have not even written.
No negativity intended re. independents. I was simply pointing out that by pushing the decision as to who to invite out to the political parties and LGA, the organisers had ensured it would be done in an unequal way. And I guess there’s no rush to officially qualify as a candidate if that status brings no benefits and simply means that people stop talking to you.
I went to the conference – I went as a potential independent and, as I’m neither ex-police nor from local government, for me it was £150 well spent and capped by a great evening drive back over the moors. The ‘Shut Up and Move On’ comment was Hogan Howe, and aptly made: there was a general undercurrent through most of the discussions that the relationship between PCCs and Chief Constables would be antagonistic, although it would be counter-productive from both sides if it were. The issue of how much and what sort of contact Chief Constables and Chief Execs should have with candidates settled down in the end to ‘be sensible’, which, I am glad to say, it already is in Norfolk.
The HMIC talk was useful for the initiated like me, and there was a very good session on commissioning: practical, comprehensive and informative.
The candidate panel discussion could have been better – the weakness was the moderator (quite frankly, it didn’t need him), not the candidates – but it did flag up the likelihood of low turnouts and the advantage to candidates who already have a big local profile: i.e. Tony Lloyd of Manchester. The think-tank panel was Westminster village stuff: maybe relevant for big, urban areas but could have been replaced for most of us by a longer tea break.
Nick Herbert’s speech was much better than Yvette Cooper’s: he was to the point and precise about the improvements he hoped PCCs would bring; she sucked up to ACPO, did some conventional Opposition bashing of Coalition spending plans and generally gave the impression that she expected Labour candidates to follow the Head Shed’s diktats before they listened to the pesky voters.