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.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Khan Juna withdraws from Thames Valley PCC race

Khan Juna, Chair of Thames Valley Police Authority, who entered the race to become the Thames Valley PCC just over a week ago, has decided to withdraw. I was sent his full statement and so was Sam Chapman. His full statement can be read here. I have just a commented on Sam's site, which I reprint below as well:

I have the hugest of respect for Mr Juna. He added much wisdom, experience and wit to the first PCC Hustings on Monday last. I am sorry to see him exit the race.

Once this new elected position was established, it was always going to be very political. The governance of such a large and significant public service has always been and should be political. The police authorities were statutorily required to have a majority of nominated elected members on them from the councils in the area covered by that police service. Decisions about precept had to be carried by a majority of those members. Whilst the party affiliation of those members was muted it was nonetheless present. This was leavened by the addition of a number of non-aligned / independent members who were selected and appointed on the basis of their professional expertise. Mr Juna remains one of those skilled independent members on the PA.

Now I know that the 'Indies' in these elections are running on the ticket of 'keep politics out of policing' but I would contend that what they really mean is 'keep party aligned politicians out of policing governance' since the governance of vast policing budgets is necessarily political and should be open to democratic scrutiny. To repeat, it always has been in police governance.

The public are rightly concerned however about the investment of so much political power in the hands of one individual and have expressed this as favouring independent candidates. Based on similar regarding City Mayors, had November 15 had been a referendum on this new system, the public would have roundly rejected it, I suspect.

But as I have said on many occasions over the last months, we are where we are.

However, there are some points in Mr Juna's statement above that I would take issue with. The party aligned candidate will still have to get a real set of 100 signatures on their nomination forms (there is no pass on this). The problems of reaching 1m households in Thames Valley is a significant challenge for all political parties although as Mr Juna points out there is a network of people who will be out delivering leaflets over the next few weeks - I will be one of them.

But what I fail understand are the reasons why Mr Juna has cited for withdrawing from the race. Of all people, given his role, he surely would have known of all the hurdles he outlines when he decided to enter the race in the first place. He surely cannot have just discovered them after doing so. Which, for me, raises some critical questions:

- Was Mr Juna only entering the race in order to exit with a flourish only a week or so later?
- Did Mr Juna really not realise the uphill struggle he was facing, in which case, how did he not realise this?
- Has he given us the full and true reasons why he is now exiting from the race?

I understand his anger. This is a daft piece of legislation and I predict it will be repealed on the basis of daftness rather than for any particularly party political reasons. Our great police service deserves to have a proper form of governance not this one dreamt up on the back of a fag packet by some policy wonks a few years ago.

But (I say again) we are where we are...

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