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.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Thames Valley Police Authority: Time to refer to Home Office / Electoral Commission?

I received a reply to my earlier email from the Chief Executive of the Police Authority yesterday which I reprint in full below:
Dear Mr Harvey
I have previously set out at length the reasons for my interpretation and application of the Thames Valley Police Authority ‘Candidate Management Policy’.  You have previously notified me that you will be referring these matters to the Home Office and the Electoral Commission for their consideration and I have concurred that this would be an appropriate course of action for you to pursue.  I have nothing further to add to my previous responses and I note that neither Dr Starkey nor Mr Bains have challenged the policy and actions of the Authority in this matter.  
I therefore believe we are simply at the point where we must agree to disagree unless and until the aforementioned bodies (Home Office and Electoral Commission) determine that the policy, actions and conduct of this Authority in this matter are not acceptable.  
As to your new queries, may I respond briefly:
a) There is no verbatim record of all the contributions and questions that Mr Stansfeld (or any other member for that matter) has made in Police Authority meetings since it was announced that he was to be the nominated Conservative Party PCC candidate.  The minutes of all Authority meetings capture and report the salient points only of any debate that occurred during those meetings.
b) I am not aware of any private meetings between Mr Stansfeld and the Chief Constable since his candidature was announced (whether in his capacity as a PA member or as a PCC candidate).
c) I am aware of differing emerging practices between police authorities in respect of how they are promoting the forthcoming PCC elections.  All I can say is that the Thames Valley Police Authority policy and practice was adopted after seeking and acting on relevant advice, including that of the local Police Area Returning Officer as well as members of the Authority with regard to the local discretion that they are able to exercise.  Whether this apparent local discretion in the interpretation and application of the relevant legislation “ another example of this rather poorly drafted legislation” I am not professionally competent to say, but I do acknowledge that there has been, and continues to be, limited central Government prescription in respect of many aspects of the national preparation for transition to PCCs.  However, as an officer of Thames Valley Police Authority, I am paid to apply the policy and wishes of this Authority, not those of South Yorkshire Police Authority.  
Paul Hammond
Chief Executive & Treasurer

Thames Valley Police Authority

So I think the upshot of this email is that (almost on his advice...) I should now take this issue to the Electoral Commission and the Home Secretary. What do you think? Please be honest.... am I barking up the wrong tree here? (Comments below...)

Please read the letter above very carefully, There are many interesting embedded points and things not said... that I think speak volumes...

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