It is certainly the case that since John Prescott through his hat into the ring the media coverage of PCCs has increased.
We now know that West Yorkshire’s elected Police and Crime Commissioner could receive a £100,000 salary – and still be cheaper than the 17-strong Police Authority. http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/top-stories/100_000_west_yorkshire_police_boss_would_be_good_value_1_4284665
Whether that is what the government intended I am not sure. The media don’t appear to think so with the Huffington Post reporting that
“Tory Police Commissioner Candidates A “Massive Disappointment For Number 10”
Is that why the Guardian have asserted that
“when elected police and crime commissioners flex their muscles, there may be real friction with Whitehall”
To be fair the article does look at the changes to the tripartite relationship with Chief Constables and the Home Office. http://www.guardian.co.uk/public-leaders-network/2012/feb/20/police-elections-friction-with-whitehall?newsfeed=true
But it does pose one very pertinent question. “What if commissioners insist on more spending in order to deliver more value and can muster local political will?” However it does not ask what if they want to spend more and cannot muster local political support. Can the police and crime panel force a referendum on the issue or does the Home Secretary have the right to impose their will?
Does this mean we may have a struggle between those who judge success of crime rates, those who base it on public satisfaction rates and those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing?
It is issues like this which show that whilst there is quite clearly a need to focus on the individual, we also need more public awareness (and that includes amongst those involved in policing) of exactly what the role and infrastructure is.
It is true that there is some good information available at sites like
http://topofthecops.com/ and http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/police/police-crime-commissioners/ and I am extremely grateful for the comments and feedback which I have received after the posting https://nypfjbb.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/police-crime-commissioners/
The questions posed there need to be part of a public wider debate through, traditional media, social media and proper public question and answer sessions taking place at a time whe they can get there.
According to a recent article in The Economist the answer to problems around crime and democracy lies in localism, and giving the silent majority control of police priorities. http://www.economist.com/node/21548209
If that is true then why are political parties seeking nominations from people to be Police and Crime Commissioners.
Surely it would be better if these candidates had no links to political parties, especially as their scrutiny body – the police and crime panel will comprise of a minimum of 12 county councilors who will equally no doubt be nominated by their parties.
This is about a lot more than ‘Bobbies on the Ballot’ the headline of the latest article in The Economist. http://www.economist.com/node/21548265 It is true that police officers their friends and families, along with police staff, their friends and families will carry a large number of votes in the elections for Police and Crime Commissioners.
It is equally true that now the restriction on the number of terms a Police and Crime Commissioner can serve has disappeared whoever is elected will need to work on their relationship with police officers and staff.
And as part of what the Economist heralds as “The most radical transformation of policing in decades” this will also mean that locally, nationally and regionally the Police Federation, Superintendent’s Association and CPOSA (not ACPO who are a private company and not a staff association) along with unions – need to ensure they have proper dialogue and timely consultation on matters with the PCCs. But at the same time they need to make it clear, as my own JBB has – that we will engage with anyone but cannot and will not endorse anyone.
Of those seeking nominations that have thus declared there are many current / ex police authority members. How do they justify their new position when the Association of Police Authorities is on record as welcoming the attempt by Peers to delete directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners from the Government’s Police Reform and Social Responsibility bill? http://www.apa.police.uk/news-releases/house-of-lords-rejects-police-and-crime-commissioners
Are those who have been police authority members of senior police officers coming to the table vicariously liable for what happened on their watch? If they take credit for the successes whilst in their former role will they also accept their share of the collective blame for the nadirs in same period?
Who will appoint the deputy PCCs? What are the answers to the questions on this role posed at https://nypfjbb.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/police-crime-commissioners/
Will Police and Crime Panels we a watered down version of the police authority?
Exactly what does the voting system for PCCs look like as I am led to believe it will not be just a straight first past the post voting system. Is what is coming a gimmick or a genuine attempt to re-engage voters with the democratic process.
If the government genuinely wants to give the silent majority the control of policing then there needs to be serious public debate about all the issues. That needs to get across to the wider public – whether that be through public meetings at a time when the public can attend, use of social media and the use of traditional media. To do anything else would not be democratic or value for money.