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, September 21, 2012

Ad hominem? Non sic.

I am aware I might be developing something of an 'attack dog' profile in the Thames Valley Police & Crime Commissioner election. People may be wondering why I am spending time dissecting the Tory and Lib Dem candidates as people rather than their policies. There are several reasons:

This is a presidential election. In other words, the new PCC will have significant new and untested executive powers over police budgets and policies. (Whilst there will be a Police Crime Panel to hold them to account, I am not holding my breath.) As such, we need to understand the persons (or men in the case of Thames Valley candidates declared so far) and where they are coming from. What are their values? Do they think of the police as beneath them or even as 'plebs'? Are their business affairs transparent or is there something of the night about where exactly their money comes from? These (and many more factors) will help the electorate of Thames Valley make up their mind as to who will be the best person to become PCC. I am not saying that policies are not important, but we need to know about the people that they are. So far not much is coming forward from either the Tories or the Lib Dems.

There are no substantive polices yet. I do not know what the Tories are campaigning for at all. Cllr Anthony Stansfeld's website is a glistening policy void. To be fair Professor Howson has at least begun to show some of his colours on the Police Exchange website here. But it is all a bit vague & verbose (of which some more another day). For the time being here is his crisp & inspirational vision for policing in Thames Valley...

Thames Valley is a large and diverse police force covering rural areas, small towns, large towns and cities and even outer London fringe areas with many different calls on the police. Policing by consent is at the heart of policing in Britain ; police must be trusted by all the public and especially young people. Thames Valley police must be as professional as possible, but not remote from the communities they serve. They must be trusted by communities; those who fear the police don't report crime and help to solve it when it happens. They must be effective and strive to deal with and solve as many crimes as possible from the petty to the most serious. The police are not sentencers nor are they carers of victims: others carry out both these roles and the police must be sensitive to them but are essentially about preventing, detecting and solving crime and carrying out the many other functions society requires of them.

(For the record, my vision was: To make Thames Valley Police the most respected police force in the country, if not the world.) And here are Professor Howson's top three priorities:

Working with the Chief Constable and other agencies on how to prevent crime, increasing detection rates to the best possible levels across the force with the resources available, and ensuring everyone who is a victim of crime is dealt with to the same level by the police.

(See what I mean about the absence of substantive policies...?)

Nobody else is doing this yet. The local newspapers do not really seem to woken up yet to the fact that this election is happening. The reporting is pretty tedious. There is very little debate so far about either the policies or the people involved. I hope this will change soon.

All the main party candidates have said why they as people should be elected. In other words they are seeking to gain support as result of their past experience. They talk about the work they have done, their capabilities and skills, and the experiences they have had. If they can talk about these matters then so will I.

But in the end, I do want to know more about what they will do as PCC. To what policies will we hold them to account? 

UPDATE: Just spotted (thanks to Russell Websterthis story about Cllr Stephen Bett: he has just resigned as Norfolk Police Authority Chair and from the Conservative Party / County Council whip so that he can run as an independent against Jamie Athill the official Conservative candidate (whose video I critiqued the other day). You might say he is "doing an Ann Barnes". Is this about politics or personalities? Policies or past experience? It is certainly about people...

Who knows, perhaps my critique of the platitudinous campaign video pushed Cllr Bett over the edge! 

The question is... how will the Tory vote now split? Will either of them dare mention the 'S' word... the second preference choice in the supplementary vote? My money is on neither of them stooping to advocate voting second for the other in their campaign material... 

What do you think?

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