This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Welcome to your new job...
From Chief Constable
To Police and Crime Commissioner
Welcome to your new job. (Thank heavens for second preference votes, eh!) Still, you now know you have the communities of [insert police area name here] all ‘fired up’ about their new elected police leader. I have asked my PA to drop by with the sack of letters from members of the public I have kept for you, pending your arrival.
Naturally I have not looked at them but one or two did happen across my desk before being carefully placed in the sack. My cursory analysis is that you will need to refine your policies on parking, “the hooligans who have noisy barbecues next door” and “we need more bobbies on the beat” fairly quickly. Your manifesto will help a great deal, I am sure.
I think the Police Authority Chief Executive has another couple of sacks too.
Meanwhile, I have been having regular meetings with the Chief Executive and the old PA team in the run up to your election. You will be glad to know that together we have sorted out a comprehensive and busy set of introductory / networking meetings for you. Given the demands of the new role and your understanding of it, this schedule should be complete around about May 2014.
Of course, you know that it is now your responsibility to agree the overall budget and council precept within the next few weeks (if not days actually). This should be pretty straightforward: as per usual, my colleagues and I have done all the maths and thinking for you (as we used for the police authority). We have tweaked it a little bit to allow for the more ‘radical’ parts of your manifesto but you will understand that with many contractual, facilities and staff commitments, the wiggle room amounts to about 0.06% of the budget. You will be glad to know that we did manage to find a few hundred quid for your ‘Victims’ Tsar’ that went down so well with the voters.
We did of course take on board your ‘iron commitment’ to reduce the council tax precept by 5% and so you will find that we and our clever accountants have managed to spread out the cuts to police officers and staff over a notional ten year period. The public will hardly notice, really. We came up what we think was a very clever wheeze to put all the community punishment offenders in tabards that almost look like police uniforms. Our market research indicates that if people see lots of fluorescent green with words like ‘Polite service’ in bold letters on them, nearly half of the samples we tested think they are actually police. The Chief Inspector who came up with this idea received a personal commendation from me. Moreover, as a result of the budgetary cuts, we estimate there will be many more offenders ‘patrolling’ the streets as they help people cross the road and clean off graffiti as part of their community punishment orders.
We did consider getting rid of that ‘back office’ cost of Information Technology altogether until it was pointed out (by the same Chief Inspector as it happens) that we had signed a twenty year contract with Micrapple that contained some very expensive exit clauses that we hadn’t noticed on page 1572. Oops.
Anyway, the spread sheet is attached. Your initials in the highlighted boxes on pages 1, 3, 14 and 623 would be peachy. Thank you.
The other ‘big’ job for you, of course, is for us to ‘agree’ the Policing Plan for the forthcoming year. You will be glad to know that I have drafted said document and it, too, is attached. It contains all of your manifesto commitments (and a few extra that I thought you might like) written in such a way that no one will be able to hold you to any of its (ultimately vague) objectives. The draft is peppered with phrases like ‘top priority’, ‘rigorous performance management’, ‘aiming high’ and, of course, ‘making our communities safer’. It has all the testosterone of a NASA business plan from the early 1960’s, even if I say so myself! Please give it a once over and we can ‘talk’ soon about how to ‘improve’ it.
We will need to talk about the ‘Strategic Policing Requirement’ at some point. It’s a bit of technical, professional thing that does not hugely concern you but there one or two resource implications of which you need to be aware. Not only will we be the only force with Police Horses from next year but we will need to create a ‘Police Investigation Rescue And Tactically Equipped’ seagoing unit (aka Ship) as well. The fact that we don’t have a coast seems to have escaped the policy chap at the National Crime Agency and as he said to me on the phone only yesterday “the SPR is the SPR – tough”. I don’t imagine this is going to cost more than about £10m to set up. We have not budgeted for it yet as we fully expect the Home Office to come up with all the jelly beans required. I think I was promised that over coffee at a conference the other day.
Anyway, that is about it for now. I look forward to having one of my last meetings with you in the next couple of days. As I think you know, I have worked for six months more than my 30 years and the warm breezes of Magaluf are calling me. Attached is my resignation letter as well. I believe the Chief Exec has already been in touch with HMCIC to seek his help in organising my replacement. There are some rather amazing Deputies and ACCs around who will relish the chance of working with you. At least that is what I have been told.
Good luck in your new role. May 2016 will come around before you know it!