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.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Meet the Commissioner (Channel 4: Cutting Edge)

I don't think anyone can doubt Ann Barnes' deep and personal commitment to the people of Kent, her clear aim to meet their need for effective police services and indeed her respect for the officers and staff who provide those services. I would take a calculated guess, that lying on the editing suite's floor are several more minutes of Ann talking about her desire for everyone in Kent to feel and be safe.

But last night's programme was a slow train wreck. Actually, it wasn't even that slow: within the first sixty seconds we were shown Ann attempting to describe 'the onion' and the layers of policing tasks & priorities. The comparisons made to 'The Office' and 'Twenty Twelve' began here.

My friend and colleague, Bernard Rix has already blogged about the programme and I commend you to read what he says. As an advocate of the PCC structure and one who has met many PCCs, he says authoritatively that last night's programme is not representative of the fine work being done by other PCCs around the country. And I also agree with him that the programme does not represent the good work being done by Ann Barnes herself. But, as I tweeted after watching the programme late last night:

I will be interested to see whether any other PCC dares to put themselves forward for a similar documentary... Or perhaps, as I also tweeted:

I wonder what other PCCs will say about last night's programme. Bob Jones (West Mids PCC) has said he will and Matthew Ellis (Staffs PCC) already has:

So what are the lessons to be learnt from all this? Here are mine:
  • Democracy, public accountability and good governance are too precious to be left in the hands of a single individual.
  • Democratic decisions need proper scrutiny: if they remain in place, Police & Crime Panels need to be reformed urgently
  • Good governance needs commitment, passion, listening and strong ethical values... but careful analysis, circumspection and raw nous are also essential
  • PCCs will be in place for at least 2 more years: they are the only game in town when it comes to the governance of policing and wider crime (CJS) services. They deserve professional respect and support. (But, and both Bernard and I spotted this, they do not need deference of the kinds that appeared to be on display in last night's programme)
  • Flip charts are dangerous pieces of equipment, to be used only by the properly trained...
Ann Barnes released a statement yesterday before the programme was screened. You can read it here and I ask that you do. I suspect that she will be driven to release further statements in coming days. These will deserve reading too.

There is some brilliant recovery to perform.

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