If I have my maths right next Tuesday (23 Oct) may be remembered by future Police and Crime Commissioners as the day they finally found out for sure who they were up against on 15 November – a key moment in the campaign, when all the lists on this and other websites can agree on their final update, as returning officers publish the statements of those nominated.
It's a tense moment in a campaign when people work out how 'their' vote will be split, though the dynamics of a Supplementary Vote election make the landscape slightly different, with second place not necessarily meaning failure.
But for those who will finally triumph this period is not just an election, but also a time of preparation. Given the compressed timetable when PCCs take office, with so much needing to be done within the space of a few weeks, those who win need to be ready to go as soon as the election is over.
A propitious day then for Policy Exchange to hold a conference for PCC candidates and other on 'Setting Priorities and Preparing for Office'. Will candidates sneak away from their campaigns to network, compare notes and enjoy a good think, or will they view that as a luxurious way of treating precious time? Will they want to look confident by attending, or will they risk looking like they are missing a free opportunity to prepare for their longed-for responsibilities?
I note that the think tank most well-known for their association with PCCs have decided to tackle head-on the role of the private sector, and in so doing give air time to former Chief Constable Tim Brain, not known for being a fan of the new role. Hazel Blears is there, and the Guardian's Michael White, as well as Damian Green, to give the view from the
cells Home Office. A fair diversity of heavyweight views then, and not a parade of Policy Exchange's friends.
I'm glad to hear an emphasis on priority setting. I have waxed lyrical on this before, more than once, way back when I had my own campaign. In my view, one thing that can go wrong is that undulations in Home Office crime categories or a flurry of press interest can form a list of offences or behaviours that imprison those whose responsibility it is to set priorities. They may feel they merely need to recognise the list, and so the priorities become offence types that are going wrong now, and may give a false impression of progress when they regress to the mean, when priorities really should be about bringing needed change.
And I'm glad to see a conference that meets the 3 criteria for attendance that I used to set when a Community Safety Manager:-
1. The topics and speakers represent a good use of one's time.
2. It's free (well, it is if you are a candidate – may as well get something for risking that 5 grand deposit, eh?)
3. It's not in London (and in this case, being in Birmingham is in an area where my visitor stats show a disproportionately high interest in this election).
And then there's Kay Burley – bonus!