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, June 20, 2014

Stepping aside... or maybe 'outside for sometime'?

IPCC press release: New investigation into Norfolk PCC’s expenses claims (Jun 19, 2014)
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is managing a new investigation into expenses claims made by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, Stephen Bett. The managed investigation, which is to be carried out by officers from City of London Police under the direction and control of the IPCC, will examine whether claims for expenses made by Mr Bett between 15 November 2012 and 31 October 2013 were correct. A complaint about the claims was sent by Norfolk’s Police and Crime Panel to the IPCC in December 2013. The IPCC requested further information that was received in January 2014. In March, following an assessment, the complaint was sent back to the Panel for it to determine whether it was making a formal referral to the IPCC. That confirmation was received in April and following a further assessment it was decided that an investigation should be carried out.IPCC Commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone will oversee the investigation.
I am grateful to my old pal Sam Chapman (@TopoftheCops) for bringing this to my attention. You can read his excellent blog posted in the early hours of this morning here. Sam, with customary legal precision, questions whether Mr Betts can 'step aside' in the way that he has announced. (See Sally Chidzoy's piece for information as well).

I do not have much to add at this stage about the case in question since clearly due process will now ensue. As regular readers know, I have recorded some earlier thoughts about this before including some FoI investigations which reached a rather troubling conclusion for me.

However, I do wish to pick up on the point that Sam makes at the end of his piece:
Oh, and should you think this PCC's conduct, past or present, is more evidence against the PCC reform, then remember – he used to chair the Police Authority.
The conduct of various PCCs is not the evidence against PCC reform since we all know that people elected to power are sometimes, sadly, far lesser people than we would wish them to be... No: the issue is that by having a governance structure that is so dependent upon one person, this is what makes it a very weak, risky and dangerous structure - one which needs to be reformed.

Indeed nearly all of Sam's article is about this precise point: the powers of the PCC cannot be delegated. There can be no stepping aside... This would not happen if there were a body of people (not just a lone individual) elected to make strategic decisions...

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