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, November 2, 2012

Building the credible back story

As people will have readily observed, most candidates for PCC rôles around the country have spent considerable time documenting convincing back stories on which to base their claim to be judged the best person to become PCC. Some of these stories include heroic acts of derring-do, extensive experience in the nooks and crannies of the criminal justice system, and superlative abilities at making change happen.

However, as I highlighted in my Guardian article from a couple of weeks back, I focused question five (of six sets of questions to scrutinise your PCC candidates) on credibility:
Many candidates have made much of their capability to be the PCC for their area. Does the candidate's website give accessible links for people to find out more about their work or political record? Or are the voters expected to take the credentials of the candidate on trust?
What is to stop candidates making dramatic claims which are based upon nothing more than bullish self confidence, a generous interpretation of their actual impact on past events and even straight untruths? The answer, sadly, is not much...

So naturally this line of thought got me to do a bit more digging into the CV of one Cllr Anthony Stansfeld. I have yet to see his campaign leaflet, but I am told that it contains claims about his influence on performance improvement and neighbourhood policing. I have dealt with these claims below here on performance and here on neighbourhood policing. His claims do not stand much scrutiny but I am happy to publish the evidence if Cllr Stansfeld can substantiate his claims.

Indeed, I do wonder if there might even be some disquiet within the Conservative camp about some of his extensive claims?

But what of Cllr Stansfeld's history further back? He makes much of his military career and his position as Managing Director of Pilatus Britten-Norman Ltd (PBN). His promotion from marketing director to chief executive officer was reported in February 1992. His departure was reported just over five years later in 1997. It is difficult to find out much about what happened during his time as CEO/MD of the company since it is such a long time ago and well before the digital age that we are all used to. However, I have done some more digging and found this reference - the veracity and provenance of which I cannot vouch for, naturally:
It was reported in 1994 that the Swiss company, Pilatus Flugzeugwerke opened a military trainer production line at its UK subsidiary on the Isle of Wight, called Pilatus Britten-Norman Ltd (UK), to side step tough new arms-export regulations.(Flight International 6/4/94). One reason suggested for the move was that the Swiss aircraft company wanted to take advantage of laxer British rules on arms exports. Pilatus Aircraft, a subsidiary of Oerlikon-Buhrle, currently manufactures the PC-7 and PC-9 in Stans, near Lucerne. The planes, originally developed for training, have been widely sold to countries such as Guatemala, Burma, Iraq, Iran and El Salvador. Swiss law prohibits military sales to 'areas of conflict'. Pilatus has long claimed that its planes are not military equipment and that, if armies buy them for training, that is not the same as buying them for killing. At least one company in Belgium openly offers gun ready conversion services. (Observer 27/3/94). The UK subsidiary already has a licenced production agreement with the Philippines, the PADC (Philippines Aerospace Development Corporation) was reported to be building the Islander light transport and passenger aircraft. The Islander has A STOL capability and can be used for cargo, passenger, survey, aerial spraying and in its Martime Defender version, maritime surveillance operations. (European Parliament: Scientific & technological options assessment - an appraisal of technologies of political control 6/1/98)
The original article in Flight International can be read here: Pilatus plans export of trainer assembly. I don't know how whether any of what is written about here happened and whether the allegations can be substantiated. But this is part of PBN's digital footprint (as it called) and therefore it is part of Cllr Anthony Stansfeld's as well since he was MD at the time. (STOL means short take off and landing, in case you were wondering.)

There are other articles too on Flight International. Cllr Anthony Stansfeld once wrote an extensive letter about the licensing of single engine aircraft for commercial flights. (His letter can be read here and do note what the editor says at the end of the letter.) This prompted an surprising response from an Australian in the same professional field who declared, at the beginning of long reposte:
I read Anthony Stansfeld's letter "Single-engine aircraft risks" (Flight International, 15-21 July, P49) with incredulity. Robust debate on safety issues is to be applauded, but emotional outpourings of unsubstantiated personal beliefs are no substitute for facts.
That was, of course, Terry Wesley-Smith's personal opinion in September 1998 and I have no view, knowing nothing either of the science or emotions of single engine aircraft safety.

In the end, the voting public of Thames Valley will decide whether the present day Anthony Stansfeld has a CV replete with substantive experience and a credible track record of change leadership, or whether he has created a back story based upon "unsubstantiated personal beliefs" and omitting any (alleged) involvement with the export of "training planes" to Guatemala, Burma, Iraq, Iran and El Salvador in the mid 1990's.

We shall see what choices are made...

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