The article contains some pertinent quotes from some key commentators (although none from PCCs, which I think is an omission) about the dangers of concentrating so much governance power in the hands of a single individual. But as I have said on many occasions, we are where we are. The question now becomes: what do we do about this?
The most important shield to protect us against corruption is the sunshine of transparency of course. This is something that I believe all honest politicians of all colours have absolutely no issue with. The article referenced above highlights the value of scrutiny. While I sincerely hope that the Police & Crime Panels use their full statutory powers to scrutinise their PCCs, I am not holding my breath. Their ability at doing this will depend on them asking the right questions. They may (wittingly or unwittingly) fail to ask all the questions that need to be asked. Other, community based scrutiny bodies might emerge of course. Armed with the Freedom of Information Act, they may squeeze out more information from the PCCs than the PCPs do. But again this depends on knowing which questions to ask.
So I would propose now that PCCs institute some simple measures to evidence their proactive anti-corruption position by publishing regular information on their websites:
- There should be a list of any donations (in kind, substance or cash) made to their Offices.
- There should be a growing list of the people and organisations the PCCs and senior officials meet
- The PCCs should list any bodies on which they sit and any remuneration they receive as a consequence
- They should list all organisations they support, are a subscriber to or are a member of
- They should declare now their intentions not to use their office as means for income / employment once they are out of office
- There should be a clear statement by the PCC of the ethics that will underpin their decision making and how they plan to be accountable for meeting the standards set by the oath they took and the seven principles of public life
- Their statement of interests should include not only assets held but also sources of income they receive.
- The PCC websites should include clear sets of accounts for their Office, which will include all expense claims made by the PCC.
- There should also be clear information about contracts signed by the PCC and all procurement procedures to be followed.
This is my starter for ten. What else would you add? What would you challenge from my list above?