Nepotism Or Not Nepotism?

That is the question……

Some of you will know that I was going to stand for the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia until Call Me Dave and the Cabinet Office tilted the playing field against Independent candidates.

Many of you will know that I subsequently applied for the position of Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia but was unsuccessful.

For these reasons I feel that I am entitled to hold an opinion and comment on the outcomes.

First off, the position of Police and Crime Commissioner went to a Conservative Councillor from Wyre Forest District Council, John-Paul Campion, who, bizarrely, follows me on Twitter so will doubtless see this post.  The previous post-holder had been an Independent and his, then, Deputy, entered the fray as an Independent this time round and finished 4th.  The Independents relegated from 1st to 4th.

Possibly the intervention of Theresa May had something to do with it, with her unsolicited emails supporting the Conservative candidate.  Where did she get non-Party Members email addresses from? Did somebody abuse the Data Protection Act?

Come the recruitment time for Deputy I took the view that I had nothing to lose and would try to inject some balance into what I saw as a bad situation for Policing in West Mercia.

My background, antecedents and experience speak for themselves.  My CV and Personal Statement were checked out by some people who know about these things. You know who you are and I am truly grateful.

And……………I didn’t make it through the short listing.  20 applicants, 6 made it on to the Short List.  I have no idea what the short-listing criteria were but I was disappointed not to make it.

For what seemed like an eternity I sat and patiently waited while the interviews were conducted and eventually the successful candidate was announced………..a Conservative Councillor from Wyre Forest District Council.  Incredible coincidence.

The local Press have not been slow to pick up on this amazing piece good fortune.

New ‘part-time’ deputy PCC appointed on £40,000 salary – as police chief denies “nepotism” claim

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion defends appointing Wyre Forest District Council colleague Tracey Onslow as deputy

One of the above Press articles makes this very valid point, and implies, if not states, that both are hanging onto their Councillor jobs as well, contradiction of that would be most welcome if this is not the case;

The West Mercia PCC represents the people who live in four local authority areas; Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Worcestershire.

“John Campion is a Wyre Forest DC and Worcestershire County Councillor. Tracey Onslow, is presently a Conservative Wyre Forest DC Councillor so we have a PCC and deputy PCC who are both from the Wyre Forest area of Worcestershire.

How WILL they adequately serve the people and Police of West Mercia if they also have “day jobs”?

I did manage to get hold of a set of the questions put to each of the 6 candidates who made it through to the interview stage, naive in parts, possibly tailored for a certain kind of person in others

 

The final insult for me personally is a pinned Tweet on Mr Campion’s personal Twitter account

Earlier in the week I was angry, today I am more sad.  Even if nepotism has not raised it’s ugly head, the people and Police of West Mercia surely deserve better.  This is a clear reminder of what can happen when you mix up Policing and Politics.  I blame Theresa May for that, Well Done, and for that, she is likely to be our next Prime Minister.

Please feel free to Unfollow me Mr Campion, but I have had just about enough of politics interfering with with Policing, and quite honestly, I’m GLAD I get didn’t the job as your Deputy.


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Is This A Strange Way To Record Accounts/Expenses?

During the run-up to the recent Police And Crime Commissioner Elections I noticed what I thought was a disparity in the incumbent North Yorkshire PCC’s published expenses.

In 2013 it included an entry for >£10,000 for ACPO fees.  As PCCs are not members of ACPO so should not pay membership fees (Association of PCCs fees also paid, no problem there) I submitted a Freedom of Information Request asking who these fees were relating to and for a copy of the invoice.

I notice from the Commissioner’s published expenses an entry on 13th June 2013, this is for Invoice Number SI10384, payable to the Association of Chief Police Officers, for PCCs Fees and Subscriptions, for an amount of £10,695.34 with a description of ACPO fees.

Could you please tell me;

a) To whom do these fees refer?

b) Could you please provide me with electronic copies of the invoice and any other documentation referring to this item of expenditure?

The first reply I got (late) was this;

Good Morning,

I acknowledge that your request is overdue however we are still waiting for the statistics from the relevant business area. I can only apologise for the delay and will endeavour to respond to your request as soon as possible.

Kind regards,

What a L.O.B.  I wasn’t even asking for statistics, PCC’s office running amok.

Eventually they provided with this response

Decision

I have today decided to disclose the located information to you.

Please find enclosed an electronic copy of the invoice described within your request which details membership costs paid by North Yorkshire Police to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). To clarify, these expenses were subtracted from the North Yorkshire Police budget and not the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioners budget (OPCC). These expenses were published upon the OPCC website in error.

With, as promised, a copy of the invoice.

Invoice for ACPO Fees

 My question is this, bearing in mind the number of wholesale changes made to her published expenses just before the elections (possibly hundreds of new or altered entries dating back years), why, when I checked last night is this entry still listed as an expenditure.  Surely it should either have been deleted as erroneous or an equal amount shown as an income (virement from the correct account) to negate the expenditure.  As it stood last night Ms Mulligan’s published expenses still contained a £10,000+ ‘error’.

Sloppy?  Something worse?  Or have I missed something here?  Or is this a perfectly valid way of publishing expenses?

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A Post-Apocalyptic Dawn

Well, it’s taken 4 years but the Horsemen finally seem to have earnt their corn.

The votes have been counted and verified and I can announce that the winner is Theresa May.

Results in Wales are not set to be announced until Sunday but it seems that the Tory Machine has won the day.  Having lost Cheshire, Leicestershire  and Humberside to Labour, they went on to take Hampshire from Independent, Kent from Independent, Lincolnshire from Independent, Norfolk from Independent, Surrey from Independent, Warwickshire from Independent and West Mercia from Independent.  So, apart from 3 losses to Labour it seems that ALL of the Tory gains were at the expense of the Independents.

I don’t really see why we should be surprised by that, the Tories seem to have targeted the Independent seats with some very (in my view) questionable tactics.

Firstly we had the Cabinet Office decision at a very early stage to withdraw/withold funding for a free mailshot.  Not everyone agrees with me but it is my view that this seriously disadvanaged the Independent candidates without the deep pockets of Party candidates.

We have seen Spin, More Spin and downright untruths from some of the Tory candidates in this campaign.  What on earth is wrong with simply telling the truth?  The story you are telling might not be a vote winner, but your proposals for dealing with it might well be.  Don’t keep telling us that Crime is Down, when it demonstrably is not, tell us that crime has risen and what you propose to do about it.  Way too simple that one for some candidates, they had to have a waltzer ride instead.

In Surrey we saw the late entry of two more Independent candidates which caused a few raised eyebrows and split the Independent vote, but having said that the Tory candidate attracted more votes than all three Independent candidates added together.

Here in DeadBadgerShire we had the (unwelcome) intervention of Mrs Theresa May, MP, Home Secretary.  She seemed to be targeting undecided voters with an email assuring us all that Tory was the only way to go.

A certain amount of spin surely?  Not only the Conservative PCCs that have had the power to ‘Hire and Fire’.

Not only the Conservative PCCs that have set the Policing priorities and overseen multi million £ budgets.

Crime is down by more than a quarter since 2012?  Really.  CrimeStats have endured all kinds of problems over the last few years.  The Home Secretary knows full well that the Counting Rules have chsnged more frequently than my socks.  Recorded Crime is on the increase once more but no mention of that.

We need a PCC that will take the job seriously and work with the government?  Is she implying that ONLY a Conservative candidate will take the job seriously?  Why is it essential to work with government?  It isn’t, it is essential to make Policing work properly, and to serve the public properly.  Mind you, it makes Theresa’s life easier to have a compliant PCC, that could well explain why she wants a PCC that will work with government.

How did she choose who to send it to?  How did she get their email addresses (that could be a worry)?  I didn’t get one so it wasn’t sent to all.

Even if wasn’t wrong to chip in (and some think it wasn’t) just because she COULD, doesn’t mean that she SHOULD have.

In Dorset she progressed to a rather more controversial video, promoting the same message as the email but targeted at Dorset.

Some of you know, most of you don’t know, but I was originally standing as an Independent Candidate for my local Force.  I had received all my registration paperwork from the Electoral Commission, I had sorted my £5k deposit, was designing a campaign website and was well over half way through getting my initial 100 nominations as required when the Cabinet Office withdrew mailshot funding. I was left in a similar position to Mike Pannett but with three entire counties to cover I certainly couldn’t afford leaflets for 3 large counties, I couldn’t effectively ‘Press the Flesh’ over such a large area.  Rightly or wrongly I took the decision early that the field was being tilted and manipulated by government so I withdrew.  Ultimately the sole Independent candidate here finished 4th, so it is highly unlikely that I would have won.  The Tories overthrew a reasonable Independent majority, despite the fact that the only candidate I knew anything about was the surviving Indie, and I was taking an interest unlike the average voter.

Do I regret withdrawing? I most certainly do.  Do I think I could have won?  Almost certainly not, but I am immensely grateful to those who supported and encouraged me, and I’m sorry if you feel that I let you down, but realistically I am convinced, with the benefit of hindsight, that success was far from assured.

There is an element that doesn’t believe that an ex Police Officer would make a good PCC.  Whyever not?  Almost anybody from a School Leaver to a 100 year old pensioner is eligible to stand.  How is any knowledge and experience, at whatever level, be a negative thing?

With just the Welsh votes to be declared the Tories have 20 out of the 36 PCCs elected in England.  More than half.  Labour have 13 PCCs in England, leaving a meagre 3 Independents. THREE!!

Party Politics now play a HUGE part in Policing of England, and I’m sure Wales will follow suit.  Who is to blame?  Personally I blame, partly, Theresa May, for her questionable interventions, but mainly, our old friend APATHY.

The government did a wonderful job of keeping the elections low-key, but I’m sure more people COULD have voted but presumably didn’t think it was important.

Finally I want to pay my own personal tribute to Mike Pannett.  I know the administrative hoops that he had to jump through in the background.  He had to endure some pretty tacky tactics along the way, but he did so with head held high.  Well done Mike.  You have lost no friends or supporters here.  The boy done good.

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A Post-Apocalyptic Dawn

Apologies for the duplication, I had a technical problem with the url after correcting some typos

Well, it’s taken 4 years but the Horsemen finally seem to have earnt their corn.

The votes have been counted and verified and I can announce that the winner is Theresa May.

Results in Wales are not set to be announced until Sunday but it seems that the Tory Machine has won the day.  Having lost Cheshire, Leicestershire  and Humberside to Labour, they went on to take Hampshire from Independent, Kent from Independent, Lincolnshire from Independent, Norfolk from Independent, Surrey from Independent, Warwickshire from Independent and West Mercia from Independent.  So, apart from 3 losses to Labour it seems that ALL of the Tory gains were at the expense of the Independents.

I don’t really see why we should be surprised by that, the Tories seem to have targeted the Independent seats with some very (in my view) questionable tactics.

Firstly we had the Cabinet Office decision at a very early stage to withdraw/withold funding for a free mailshot.  Not everyone agrees with me but it is my view that this seriously disadvanaged the Independent candidates without the deep pockets of Party candidates.

We have seen Spin, More Spin and downright untruths from some of the Tory candidates in this campaign.  What on earth is wrong with simply telling the truth?  The story you are telling might not be a vote winner, but your proposals for dealing with it might well be.  Don’t keep telling us that Crime is Down, when it demonstrably is not, tell us that crime has risen and what you propose to do about it.  Way too simple that one for some candidates, they had to have a waltzer ride instead.

In Surrey we saw the late entry of two more Independent candidates which caused a few raised eyebrows and split the Independent vote, but having said that the Tory candidate attracted more votes than all three Independent candidates added together.

Here in DeadBadgerShire we had the (unwelcome) intervention of Mrs Theresa May, MP, Home Secretary.  She seemed to be targeting undecided voters with an email assuring us all that Tory was the only way to go.

A certain amount of spin surely?  Not only the Conservative PCCs that have had the power to ‘Hire and Fire’.

Not only the Conservative PCCs that have set the Policing priorities and overseen multi million £ budgets.

Crime is down by more than a quarter since 2012?  Really.  CrimeStats have endured all kinds of problems over the last few years.  The Home Secretary knows full well that the Counting Rules have chsnged more frequently than my socks.  Recorded Crime is on the increase once more but no mention of that.

We need a PCC that will take the job seriously and work with the government?  Is she implying that ONLY a Conservative candidate will take the job seriously?  Why is it essential to work with government?  It isn’t, it is essential to make Policing work properly, and to serve the public properly.  Mind you, it makes Theresa’s life easier to have a compliant PCC, that could well explain why she wants a PCC that will work with government.

How did she choose who to send it to?  How did she get their email addresses (that could be a worry)?  I didn’t get one so it wasn’t sent to all.

Even if wasn’t wrong to chip in (and some think it wasn’t) just because she COULD, doesn’t mean that she SHOULD have.

In Dorset she progressed to a rather more controversial video, promoting the same message as the email but targeted at Dorset.

Some of you know, most of you don’t know, but I was originally standing as an Independent Candidate for my local Force.  I had received all my registration paperwork from the Electoral Commission, I had sorted my £5k deposit, was designing a campaign website and was well over half way through getting my initial 100 nominations as required when the Cabinet Office withdrew mailshot funding. I was left in a similar position to Mike Pannett but with three entire counties to cover I certainly couldn’t afford leaflets for 3 large counties, I couldn’t effectively ‘Press the Flesh’ over such a large area.  Rightly or wrongly I took the decision early that the field was being tilted and manipulated by government so I withdrew.  Ultimately the sole Independent candidate here finished 4th, so it is highly unlikely that I would have won.  The Tories overthrew a reasonable Independent majority, despite the fact that the only candidate I knew anything about was the surviving Indie, and I was taking an interest unlike the average voter.

Do I regret withdrawing? I most certainly do.  Do I think I could have won?  Almost certainly not, but I am immensely grateful to those who supported and encouraged me, and I’m sorry if you feel that I let you down, but realistically I am convinced, with the benefit of hindsight, that success was far from assured.

There is an element that doesn’t believe that an ex Police Officer would make a good PCC.  Whyever not?  Almost anybody from a School Leaver to a 100 year old pensioner is eligible to stand.  How is any knowledge and experience, at whatever level, be a negative thing?

With just the Welsh votes to be declared the Tories have 20 out of the 36 PCCs elected in England.  More than half.  Labour have 13 PCCs in England, leaving a meagre 3 Independents. THREE!!

Party Politics now play a HUGE part in Policing of England, and I’m sure Wales will follow suit.  Who is to blame?  Personally I blame, partly, Theresa May, for her questionable interventions, but mainly, our old friend APATHY.

The government did a wonderful job of keeping the elections low-key, but I’m sure more people COULD have voted but presumably didn’t think it was important.

Finally I want to pay my own personal tribute to Mike Pannett.  I know the administrative hoops that he had to jump through in the background.  He had to endure some pretty tacky tactics along the way, but he did so with head held high.  Well done Mike.  You have lost no friends or supporters here.  The boy done good.

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PCC Elections?  Sshhh Maybe Nobody Will Notice

Just in case you hadn’t noticed there are elections next Thursday to elect some Police and Crime Commissioners.  I only say that because you may not have heard.  You have been a victim of this government’s latest scandalous trick.

Firstly Cabinet Office withdrew the funding for the candidates’ mailshot, meaning they would have to fund it themselves or do without, hugely disadvantaging the Independent Candidates.

The government spent, I believe, £9.6 MILLION sending us all a nice booklet about the EU IN/OUT referendum.

Teflon Theresa appeared in a few videos and sent out some emails assuring us that only a Conservative PCC could continue to successfully cut crime, whilst failing to notice that the latest official ONS stats show that crime has RISEN by 8%.  Blatantly ignoring Purdah and sticking a large oar into the democratic process.

The final straw is the revelation that after the multi million £ excesses of IN/OUT the Home Office have actually spent £2,700 promoting the PCC elections.  That is not a typo, that is two thousand, seven hundred pounds.

In 2012 they spent £3 million on a TV campaign for the elections.

If they followed the Electoral Commission’s recommendations they would have to spend about £9 million.

Instead they will be sending out a few posters to election officials at a cost of £2,700.

Is the process rigged?  You bet it is.  How anybody can describe it as fair is beyond me.

DESPICABLE ME

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Welcome To North Yorkshire, The Safest County In England

Or something like that.

The incumbent Police and Crime Commissioner, Ms Julia Mulligan has made great play on Facebook about the latest set of Crime Stats from the Office of National Statistics showing that North Yorkshire has the lowest crime rate in England.

Well, I never could resist a challenge, I have been known to mull over dry old figures once or twice before, so how does her claim stack up?

She begins her Facebook post like this

Official figures showing North Yorkshire has the LOWEST crime rate in England demonstrate my record of delivery as Police & Crime Commissioner.

One of her claims is true, crime in North Yorkshire has only risen by 5% compared to 8% nationally.  Crime is UP?  Surely some mistake there?  I presume Reform is working.

Most of the credit can be attributed to a decrease in Theft (down 1%), Theft From Person (down 9%), Other Theft (down 8%), Drugs (down 7%) and Possession of Weapons (down 22%).  The last two can presumably be explained by the lower number of officers on the streets and the Home Secretary’s desired practice of reducing Stop and Search, so less opportunity to find these items.

The other side of the coin is not so rosy it would seem.

Violence Against The Person (UP 22%), Violence With Injury (UP 16%), Violence Without Injury (UP 31%), Sexual Offences (UP 18%), Robbery (UP 24% against a national DECREASE of 2%), Domestic Burglary (UP 4% against a national decrease of 3%), Non Domestic Burglary (UP 4% against a national decrease of 4%).  These are not my categories but the ones quoted by ONS.

So, Ms Mulligan, returning to your Facebook post you seem to be quite happy to take the credit for North Yorkshire having the lowest crime rate in England( 45.1 crimes per 1,000 of the population)

………demonstrate my record of delivery as Police & Crime Commissioner.

My plan for the future will build on this success – that’s why I’m asking you to make me your FIRST Choice for PCC on May 5th.

so I presume you will be equally happy to take the credit for all those offences which are UP.  Violence, Sexual Offences, Robbery, Burglary all UP.  This is the success you will be building on.

No Crime is a good thing but as you know Crime is categorised Minor and Major.  Virtually all of the crimes that are UP are in the Major Category.  I’m guessing that’s not actually a good thing.

Sadly the only conclusion that I can come to is that this is Party Political Spin.  Mrs May and her office keep telling us that Crime is Down, Reform is Working.  Well, even the lauded ONS statistics show us that All Crime (excluding Fraud) is up by 8% year on year.

Could candidates please abstain from spin and just give us the TRUTH, all of it, not just some of it?

I thank you

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Controversial?  Me? Maybe Just This Once

Next month will bring us the 2016 elections for Police and Crime Commissioners.  At this precise moment I have no idea how they will go.  Most areas have Local Authority Elections on the same day which will hopefully improve the turnout over the 2012 disaster, but who knows, time will tell.

The government seem to be intent on tilting the playing field in their favour.  They have declared their hand by nishing the free leaflet drop which will comprehensively disadvantage any candidate not allied to a major political party, i.e. the Independents.

Rumours have been reaching the press in recent weeks how the Tories overspent on their election expenses in some constituencies at the last General Election, showing the contempt they have for the Electoral Process.  The last four years has proved to them the PCC system has not exactly fulfilled their plans and the popularity of Independent candidates such as Mike Pannett and Kevin Hurley has clearly got them rattled.  They seem hell-bent on gaining as many victories as possible this time round, and Theresa May has entered the fray urging everyone to vote Tory.

Purdah?  What Purdah?

So, unless Common Sense prevails (didn’t happen in the General Election) we should prepare ourselves for a plethora of Tory PCCs.  We have seen just what a good impression some of those have made of being government puppets.  Northants, North Yorkshire, Dyfed Powys to name just a few. They have all given a damn fine impression of obeying Theresa May without question.

So, what can we do about it if it all goes wrong?

Personally I’m not a huge fan of “Blue Flu”, it’s never really very popular, hardly ever effective and may send the wrong message to the public.

I prefer the #DoItRight philophosy.  Do absolutely everything by the book.  It normally takes much longer than taking the shortcuts, you can’t be wrong and you can’t, justifiably, be criticised.

Alongside this, my personal preference is to withdraw all of the things we do on a totally voluntary basis, such as driving Police Cars and/or carrying firearms etc etc.  I know many will not agree with that stance and that is your right, but let me just tell you this;

One dark day I was involved in an accident driving a Police Car, nobody died, nobody was injured but there was a very expensive pile of junk left at the side of the road. The Garage Sergeant appeared to be shocked that I was sober at 9 o’clock in the morning and that I was Guilty of being stationary whilst being hit by a 113 mph Porsche and I was accordingly prosecuted for this heinous offence.  Acquitted at Court with No Case To Answer, I had received no assistance from the Federation except offering to pay my legal bills.  Upon acquittal a Traffic Chief Inspector said “we all know what happens at Court son, the Innocent go down and the Guilty go free”.  On that day I vowed NEVER again to exceed the speed limit on duty,  NEVER to creep across a set of red lights, NEVER again to do one single thing driving a Police Car that would put my personal driving licence in jeopardy.  The Presumption of Guilt saw to that.

If a significant number of officers adopted similar views, Response Times would go out the window, jobs would stack up waiting to be done and it would become blatantly obvious that we need MORE cops, not less, just to tread water and get the Job done.

Not all of you will agree with me, and that’s fine.  I merely ask you to consider it, and if there is anything that you can stop doing, or do less, that won’t get you into trouble, then consider it.  Direct Action is seldom ignored, but I’m not sure that we can emulate the French Farmers and cover Parliament with cowshit or blockade our ports.  We cannot strike, that’s currently a No No, but if there is anything at all that we can lawfully do, that doesn’t breach the Discipline Code, just think about it.  I don’t want one single one of you to drop yourselves in the mire, but I am convinced that there are things that you can do (or not do) that will be noticed and make a difference.

Hunt’s speeches in the HoC over the last two days have shown how much sympathy and concern we can expect from the government, he has just been priceless.

I hope that the Independents will be successful next month, or at the very least, that the Tories fail, but if not you may need a Plan B.

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Politics And Policing, Ne’er The Twain…….

Really?  Once upon a time maybe, but this government has changed all that forever.

In recent months the landscape has been turned on its head.  Almost as soon as the date for the PCC elections was made public David Cameron’s Cabinet Office announced that there would be no funding for a free mailshot for the candidates. I have no idea what the financial implications of this decision are but it will almost certainly disadvantage the Independent candidates funding their own campaigns.  I know at least one candidate who has had to withdraw from the fray for exactly this reason, and no other.

Then just a few short days ago someone I know received the below email.  I didn’t get it for some reason, but having read it I’m not really surprised.
 Theresa May, clearly expressing her views, and not the views of Mrs Theresa May but Theresa May MP, Home Secretary.  This clearly introduces party politics into the campaigns and I’m not really sure whether or not it may breach any purdah. 

I’m reasonably certain that this email will be repeated all over the country.  It was sent to somebody who is most definitely not a member of the Conservative Party, nor any other, and not a supporter of any party either.  Heaven knows how the email address was obtained by the Conservative Party but it would not have been willingly provided. 

Then, this morning I saw an article on Sky News quoting Lynne Owens of the National Crime Agency and putting their own particular spin on what she said.

Let me be clear, I don’t really have a problem with what Ms Owens said, but it left her and the NCA open to media spin.  In my opinion (and that’s all it is) Policing should take NO part whatsoever in the leave/remain campaigns.  State the Pros and Cons if you must, but with no actual or implied preference attached.  It is quite right that the world of Policing should be prepared for the outcome of the Referendum in June.  It would not be the first time that contingency plans would have been prepared.  Whatever the outcome of the Referendum it will take at least two years to exit.  If the vote is Remain then nothing in Policing needs to change.  Policing needs to be ready for the possibility of Exit but that will not happen overnight in June.  It would be reckless in the extreme NOT to be prepared, but regardless of any problems associated with Exit, Policing should not seek to influence the outcome in any way.

David Cameron, Thersa May and to a certain extent Tom Winsor and George Osborne have created a country where Party Politics are noe entrenched in Policing, and I, for one, think that is a terrible thing to have done.  Not one of their better achievements by any means.

I’m an old crusty, one of the dinosaurs that Sir Tom dislikes so much, but I’m not going to apologise for that. 

ADDENDUM

Cumbria also gets the Theresa May treatment

  

“A vote for a Conservative PCC is a vote for a candidate who will work with the Government to deliver lower crime and safer communities, while making effective use of police budgets.”

Theresa May, March 2016

Electing the right PCC in May is vital to people making sure their policing priorities are heard.

“Nationally, the Conservative Government has protected overall police spending for the next four years and reformed policing to make forces more accountable, effective and better value for money for local taxpayers. This means every force will have the resources and powers they need to keep on cutting crime.

“Vote Conservative for a PCC who will work effectively with the Government to ensure your police force uses those resources and takes the right steps to deliver lower levels of crime and safer communities.”

Theresa May, April 2016

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In Support Of The NARPO Army

There has been a lot of comment on Twitter recently to the effect that ex Police Officers should not stand for election in the forthcoming PCC Eelections in May.  Why not?  Who CAN stand in a hope of being elected?  ALMOST ANYONE.

To be able to stand as a candidate at a Police and Crime Commissioner election in England (excluding London, and Wales, you must be:
 at least 18 years old on the day of your nomination

 a British citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or a
citizen of any other other member state of the European
Union, and
 registered as a local government elector in a local council
area that is within the police area in which you wish to stand, both at the time of your nomination and on polling day.

To be fair there are some people who cannot stand, who are they?

Bascally they are;

Disqualifications

1.2 Apart from meeting the qualifications for standing for election, you must also not be disqualified.

1.3 Most disqualifications apply on the day you are nominated and on polling day (see paragraph 1.4), but some will only apply on taking up office (see paragraph 1.5).

Disqualifications that apply on nomination and on polling day

1.4 You cannot stand for election if on the day of your nomination and on polling day:

I. You have been nominated as a candidate at a Police and Crime Commissioner election taking place on the same day for a different police area.

II. You have ever been convicted of an imprisonable offence. This disqualification applies even if you were not actually imprisoned for that offence, or the conviction has been spent.

III. You are a police officer or are directly or indirectly employed by the police. For further information, see paragraph 1.8

IV. You are disqualified under certain provisions of the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975, (as amended), if you are a civil servant, a member of the armed forces or hold any judicial office specified in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the House of Commons Disqualifications Act 1975 (as amended).

V. You are a member of the legislature of any country or territory outside the UK.

VI. You are a member of staff of a local council that falls wholly or partly within the police area in which you wish to stand, or you are employed in an organisation that is under the control of a local council in the police area in which you wish to stand.
Note that you may be employed by an organisation that is under the control of a local council, for example, if you work for certain fire services or health services. This list is not exhaustive. For further information see paragraph 1.13.
At a Police and Crime Commissioner election you are not treated as being employed by a local council if you work at a school (either as a teacher or a member of non-teaching staff) that is maintained or assisted by a local council.

Elected members of councils are not disqualified from being elected at a Police and Crime Commissioner election.

VII. You are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order. For more information, see paragraph 1.20. 

Much has been made of ‘political independence’.  My take on this is; even if you regard PCCs as a political post (and most people do) if the candidate or post-holder are not aligned with or supported by a Political Party then surely they may truly be regarded as Independent.  After all, we have Independent MPs, Independent Councillors, nobody describes them as not being ‘Independent’ but we happily accept that they are indeed ‘political’.  What is the difference please?  Free from the shackles of Party Politics, no expectation or obligation to “toe the Party Line”.

When it comes to “holding the Chief Constable to account” we are faced with the assertion that anyone who didn’t rise to the rank of Chief Constable has somehow ‘failed’.  I for one do not regard myself as having failed in this quest quite simply because I did not attempt to reach those dizzy heights. I joined the Police to be a ‘Copper’, not to jump through assorted hoops to attain great rank.  I would certainly be offended to be branded a ‘failure’.

There also seems to be an assumption that an ex Police Officer would be incapable of forming a professional, working relationship with the Chief Constable and would be forever ‘blurring the lines’ or ‘overstepping the mark’.  How condescending is that?  What guarantees do you have that a professional politician would be any better, or do they have the monopoly on forming such working relationships?

I have also seen the arguement on Twitter that ex Police Officers are unlikely to act with an appropriate level of Integrity and Ethics.  In my view that is an outrageous generalisation.  Why on earh should ex Police Officers, retired or not, have less integrity than a politician, or Mrs Miggins who was a full time florist until just a week ago?  At various points in their careers Police Officers will have been vetted.  How would politicians or members of the public score in a Vetting Process? When it comes to public confidence, the Police still score higher than politicians;

I am not naive enough to think that all Police Officers, Ex, Retired or Serving, are all 100% perfect, but I certainly don’t believe that their standards are lower than the norm.

At the end of the day all I ask from any of the candidates is that they tell the truth and stick to stablished facts in their campaigns.  That way the electorate can vote for the candidate of their choice, having been ptoperly informed along the eay, and not persuaded or disuaded by somebody before the campaigns have even properly begun.

To return to the beginning, do I see a problem with ex (retired) Police Officers standing as a candidate? No I most certainly do not.  If that’s what the public want then they can and will vote for them.  The converse is also true.

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The Countdown To 5th May Has Begun

Just 2 months to go until possibly one of the most important elections in recent years.The elections for Police and Crime Commissioner.  Local Authority and Mayoral elections (where applicable) are being held on the same date and hopefully this will improve the turnout.

Unlike in 2012 , when the last PCC elections were held, Police and Crime Commissioners are no longer an unknown quantity.  There are good, there are bad ones and there are PCCs who are totally unfathomable.  You wil each have your own opinion of your own PCC.

There are some excellent Independent candidates this time around, Mike Pannett in North Yorkshire, Barrie Sheldon in West Mercia, both of whom have a wealth of relevant experience for different reasons.

Kevin Hurley in Surrey is standing for re-election and I guess that the people of Surrey have had plenty of time to decide whether they like his style or not, but he does come with a reputation for telling THE TRUTH.  If that’s what you want then maybe he’s your man.

One thing we definitely do not want is a PCC who is part of one of the mainstream political parties.  Just look at the track record of some of the Tory PCCs, nothing more than Theresa May’s Yes Men.  If that’s what you want then fine, but honestly, party politics has no place in Policing.  It is clearly wrong.  It unduly influences decisions taken by the PCC and is undoubtedly detrimental to impartial Policing.  That is exactly what Policing should be – Impartial, Without Fear Or Favour, with their loyalties being to the people they serve, NOT the Home Office.

The government has already interfered to disadvantage the Independent candidates, some Tory PCCs seeking re-election are beginning to make claims that they really can’t back up.  Don’t be fooled by smoke snd mirrors.

I’m sure there are other excellent Independent candidates, not just the ones I have mentioned above, and if I have forgotten or omitted you then I apologise.  The important thing is that you seriously consider voting Independent, whoever your candidate is. I fervently believe that the safe and continued future of our fine and proud Police Service depends on keeping politics out of Policing.

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