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.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Today, I have experienced an accolade I did not anticipate: being favourably quoted in the Mail on Sunday juxtaposed to a quote from Chief Executive of the Tax Payers Alliance. Martin Beckford has written an article, which has drawn, in part, upon my earlier blog about the 'two offices' of the Thames Valley PCC, one Cllr Anthony Stansfeld.

Here is the headline to Martin's piece, where it is alleged:
"£85,000 crime tsar used sham office to hike expenses 6,000% (and he's the first Police Commissioner to hire a chauffeur as well)"
I suggest that you read the article, naturally. I am quoted as:
Jon Harvey, a Buckingham town councillor, added: ‘I am very curious as to how him having these two offices benefits the Thames Valley public.’
The article goes on to expose the fact that the PCC now has his own chauffeur. Sadly the closing date for the new job to be the "Support Officer (PCC)" has now passed. Otherwise, I might have applied... However I find it interesting that the OPCC is quoted in Martin's article as saying "The PCC has recently employed a support officer whose role includes administrative support for the PCC. The decision was also taken to make driving duties one of the responsibilities of this post."

"One of the responsibilities... also taken"....?! Seriously?!

Here is the quote from the job advert (with some bits highlighted by me):
In this role you will provide a driving and practical support service for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and/or his Deputy (DPCC) to enable them to attend engagements and statutory functions throughout the Force area and the country whilst keeping to diary times and commitments. You will also provide administrative and research support to the PCC/DPCC and deal with the general day-to-day maintenance of the vehicle. The successful candidate will hold a full driving licence and have proven advanced driving qualifications and or professional driving experience. Geographical knowledge of the Thames Valley Force area and in particular the South-East region is essential. An understanding of vehicle mechanics and emergency procedures is required
I don't know about you, but that does not sound much like driving to be "one of the responsibilities". It sounds to me to be majority of the job!

Also I note that the advert also says:
The Office of the PCC is based at Force HQ, Kidlington, but as the current PCC is Newbury-based, the successful candidate will be required to operate out of the Newbury area on a day-to-day basis.
"but... Newbury based"... So will the PCC have to maintain the second office in Hungerford for this to remain true? But there again, I know very little about how chauffeur contracts work these days. I guess it is not like Downton Abbey anymore?

But to return to the second office matter. I note that there is only one reason given by the OPCC in The Mail on Sunday article to justify this arrangement (again I have added some emphasis): 
A spokesman for Mr Stansfeld said: ‘Thames Valley is a large area to cover and the Hungerford office was made available to the Police and Crime Commissioner to increase his productivity
This prompts me to ask several questions:
  1. How productive was the PCC before he had a second office?
  2. How much did his productivity increase when he did (and how was this measured)?
  3. Precisely how did having a second office in Hungerford increase his productivity (given that he could easily work from home)?
  4. Will his productivity now increase or decrease as a result of gaining a chauffeur?
  5. How will this be measured?
  6. When the second office was instituted, did the PCC know this would affect the amount of personal mileage he could claim?
  7. Was this a factor that he took into account when making this decision?
  8. Where is the documentation around this decision?
  9. What did he think would happen when these two arrangements (second office and chauffeur) became public knowledge? How did he think people would react?
  10. Will the Police & Crime Panel ask him any of these questions when they meet this coming Friday morning?
  11. If they do not... who else should?
  12. What are the other questions that I hesitate to ask?

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