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.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

We have a problem, Houston...

This morning, I was pointed to a rather nasty and crass article by Richard Littlejohn: Stranded on the road to nowhere in which he (briefly) notes the tragedy for the people who died or who were involved  in the tragic car crash on the M6 on Christmas Day. But then goes onto say "We all appreciate that in the event of a fatal accident the emergency services must be given room to do their job. But patience begins to wear gossamer thin when the road remains closed for hours on end for no good reason."

Thus begins what can only be described as fatuous rant against the police, fire and highways agency officers (and possibly others who were there too) who attended the incident and performed a very difficult but professional job.

This article was published on the 27 December, before the dead had even been buried. 

I struggle to find the words to describe how appalled I am by this article. @NathanConstable has written a fine and restrained blog about the article and I commend his piece to you. It is measured and factual, explaining probably what happened and just why the road had to be closed for so long.

In truth, I expect very little from Richard Littlejohn. But this article sinks lower than many other pieces I have read of his. To repeat, this article was written and published before the two small children and their Auntie had even been buried. I know this because a friend of mine went to the funeral yesterday. (My friend is a thoroughly decent public servant who, without even questioning I am sure, has given up much of his Christmas holiday to be with the family.)

But what worries me even more, are the comments left on the article's website by members of the public. Here are the two which received the highest numbers of positive ratings:
Good article as usual Rich, we are all fed up with the self importance of these public servants closing down motorways unnecessarily for hours on end. (+rating of 863)
So true, the police are coining the overtime while strutting about like pipsqueak Mussolinis. No wonder they've lost the support of decent people who see this but zero action on real crime (+rating of 514)
And here are two which received the highest numbers of negative ratings:
Does anyone really think the police and other services wanted to be there on Christmas Day? Especially when fatalities happened! I strongly suspect they wanted to be at home eating turkey with their families, like most of us. They all do an amazing job and are very brave. DM - don't write about this rubbish again please! (-rating of 456)
What a vile piece of writing.... No compassion at all ....shut up (-rating of 421)

I really cannot believe somebody is using a fatal road traffic accident to have yet another stab at the Police. Do you know how Accident Investigation works? If it were members of your family involved, would you not be asking the Police questions, like how fast was the car going, was it driver error, what other evidence do they have for the reason for the crash? Was there a problem with the car? Alot of these things have to be done before the vehicle is moved. You'd all be quick enough to jump, and criticise them, if they were unable to give you the answers. It takes time to investigate an accident, if you were late for your Christmas Dinner, so what, at least you got there (-rating of 283)
What does this say about our society that such comments receive the positive and negative ratings that they did. We have a problem, Houston... if public feel this way about the police and fellow emergency services.

I look forward to strong and positive leadership from the PCCs involved (that would be the Thames Valley and Staffordshire ones) declaring their sincere condolences to the family involved and asserting the valuable, professional and difficult jobs that the police and partners do. (There is nothing as yet on the Thames Valley PCC site nor on the Staffordshire site yet either.)

But all of us have a responsibility, I believe. We can all explain to our family, friends and colleagues about the complex and difficult tasks faced by public servants almost everyday of the week. I hope this blog adds to that.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Who sets the priorities... really?

I have been doing some research into the controversial story about the RSPCA and the hunting conviction this morning. It seems as if the Crown Prosecution Service were given all the diligently collected evidence but chose not to prosecute (resources.. priorities… politics…?) As a consequence the RSPCA pursued a private prosecution against members of the Heythrop Hunt who were convicted a few days ago. I imagine that the RSPCA assumed they would be awarded costs, but the judge decided not to:

Judge Pattinson said: “It is not for me to express an opinion...” before swiftly doing so. “But I do find it to be a quite staggering figure.” He also suggested that “members of the public may feel that RSPCA funds can be more usefully employed”. (Link here)

Some (pro hunting, I believe) MPs are now seeking a review by the Charity Commission as to whether charity rules were broken by the RSPCA. (Link here) Other aspects of the story can be found here, here and here.

For me it all comes down to priorities: both within the RSPCA and the criminal justice system (CPS & Police). Who is it that finally decides where scarce resources should be spent, and then who is responsible for the consequences…? (For your information, the RSPCA had an annual income of £116m for the year ending in 2011)

It is no surprise that this story is being hotly debated on many blogs. On the one hand the law was being broken and therefore the CPS should have pursued a prosecution. On the other hand, the CPS (and the police) have limited resources and probably prioritise crimes against people more than crimes against animals. It is probably far more complex than that of course. But in the space left by the decision not to mount a public prosecution, the RSPCA stepped into bring a private prosecution instead. Were they right to do so?

It will be interesting to see what now happens. In my experience the pro-animal campaigners are a very tenacious bunch and I would imagine complaints about the District Judge have already been submitted, alongside complaints about the RSPCA being submitted by a cross party group of MPs…

And then in amongst all this, where does the PCC sit? This issue was briefly raised during the election campaign when one candidate said that she would be asking her Chief Constable not to spend resources on policing badger culls as that would not be a priority if she were elected. But is that a strategic matter or an operational one? Is this a matter of professional judgement or political calculation? Ethics or accountancy?

I watch with interest!

(For the record, as a vegetarian, I am naturally against all blood sports and I believe the law banning fox hunting should be upheld. However this matter has more far reaching consequences in my opinion.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What does a victim centric criminal justice system look like?

I have been mulling this morning on this question - which I also tweeted:

I had no responses. I have just posted it again and at the time of writing, one other tweeter has got back to me. I will post an analysis of what other responses I get later on.

Meanwhile, I have been doing some research:

There is the The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (produced by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform in 2005). There is this web guide to reporting crimes and getting compensation with links to other helpful sites (produced by DirectGov). There is also this Victims Charter and guide to the criminal justice system from the Republic of Ireland (produced by their Victims of Crime Office). There may be other documents too.

There are also the Five Promises to Victims and Witnesses that Victim Support has asked all elected PCC's to sign. So far most, but not all, PCCs have signed up to these promises.

All PCCs have had to swear an oath of office which I have reprinted below, with added highlight:
I [name] do hereby declare that I accept the office of Police and Crime Commissioner for [police area]. In making this declaration, I solemnly and sincerely promise that during my term of office:
  • I will serve all the people of [police area] in the office of Police and Crime Commissioner.
  • I will act with integrity and diligence in my role and, to the best of my ability, will execute the duties of my office to ensure that the police are able to cut crime and protect the public.
  • I will give a voice to the public, especially victims of crime, and work with other services to ensure the safety of the community and effective criminal justice.
  • I will take all steps within my power to ensure transparency of my decisions, so that I may be properly held to account by the public.
  • I will not interfere with the operational independence of police officers.
What would help me, and perhaps others too, is for there to be an easy way to compare one PCC / CJS area with another. Perhaps if we had something like this...?

This needs work naturally, not least that I am sure there are not the correct set of parameters and of course all the boxes are empty. If you would like to work with me on refining this tool, I have uploaded a copy to my Google Drive with the link to access it here. (You will be able to read it more easily there.) And if you want to co-draft this, then please email me and we can start a dialogue.

So back to my question:

What does a victim centric CJS look like?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The policing landscape: gaps and overlaps?

Once upon a time, I suppose, everyone knew where they were. We had ACPO, the Home Office and the APA (the old 'tripartite' system) which worked in tandem with the HMIC, the IPCC, SOCA and the NPIA.

This landscape is now in a state of considerable flux with the advent of Police & Crime Commissioners, the College of Policing, the emergent National Crime Agency, the Police ICT NewCo and the fact that quite a large number of police chief officers are moving on to new pastures. (See this Police Oracle report for some helpful information.)

Some people would say that the developing landscape looks messy, incoherent, lacking in vision and without a clear strategy for the governance and proper coordination of significant national policing resources, but I could not possibly comment.

However, I would ask which people and organisations are seeking to take an overview and working out where there might be gaps and overlaps? I fear that there are a number of alternative models of the future in existence, which may not be compatible. Whilst bilateral discussions are no doubt under way and each 'hill' in this landscape is seeking to determine its place in the future, there may be the absence of a joined up plan...

I will be happy to be told that there is a joined up plan and moreover there will seamless liaison with agencies operating under the Ministry of Justice. But I fear that all the interested parties are not all talking with each other.

Perhaps now would be a time to do that?

And even perhaps now would be a time to get everyone in a single room to negotiate it all together in one big conversation? (I would be very happy to be a fly on the wall - if not design a process for such a conversation to happen...)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Scrutiny with teeth?

Amidst all the concerns about PCCs appointing their mates to various deputy and interim positions, several people have raised questions about how much power the PCCs have. The Government's belief (as I understand it) is that the Police and Crime Panels will hold the PCC to account and be a public check on their power.

Below are the replies I have now received from the Thames Valley PCP in answer to my questions I posed them a few days ago. As you read through their answers... decide for yourself: is this a PCP with teeth that will be fearlessly challenge the PCC and the decisions he makes... or not?

1. How important is it to you that the PCP holds PCC Stansfeld to account for achieving the pledges on which he based his campaign?
The focus of the Panel is the fulfilment of its statutory duties. The Panel will have regard to the Commissioner’s election pledges whilst fulfilling those duties. 

2. If it is important, how will you be doing this, specifically, pledge by pledge?
Through question and answer sessions with the Commissioner in the Panel’s scheduled public meetings. 

3. From your perspective are matters relating to the deployment of police resources (temporarily or over a longer term) a matter for the Chief Constable’s operational discretion (informed by evidence and data no doubt) or is this a matter for the PCC? (PCC Stansfeld’s email seems to me to be saying both…)
This is a matter for the Commissioner and Chief Constable, the roles of whom are defined in the legislation.

4. Currently Thames Valley Police use a Resource Allocation Formula based upon Population 30%, Recorded Crime 35% and Incidents (excluding Crime and Admin) 35% (a matter I have blogged about in the past). Do you foresee the PCC having any authority over altering the nature of the existing formula?
Please refer to the response to your third question. 

5. If (say) Aylesbury Vale experienced an unforeseen and dramatic rise in rural crime (such as the rising incidence of the theft of agricultural vehicles), would you expect the PCC to react to this by asking the Chief Constable to allocate extra police officers and staff towards tackling this?
Again, please refer to the response to your third question; although regardless of what was agreed between the PCC and Chief Constable in respect to the deployment of resources, the Panel would take an interest in the Commissioner’s response to any situation that may require a temporary or permanent revision to the Police & Crime Plan.

6. As most of the PCP are councillors, do you see yourself as a body composed mostly of ‘political activists’?
The elected members of the Panel are appointed by their respective local authorities to the Panel, a body with specific statutory functions.

7. What view do you have of PCC Stansfeld’s last couple of sentences where he seems to me to say that he believes his only line of scrutiny is to the PCP and that I (as a resident, town councillor and member of a political party) am only entitled to ask him questions relating to ‘personal’ issues?
This is a matter you should pursue with PCC Stansfeld.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The end of the story?

Regular readers will know that all the while through his campaign, I raised many questions about Anthony Stansfeld's interests. Various public documents were not consistent with each other and indeed his public statements often gave further variations.

All the information I uncovered can be found here and with my last substantive blog posted just before the election in November here.

But now that Mr Stansfeld is the elected Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, he has published what I presume is, the definitive guide to his various interests. You can find the document here. You will note that most of the answers given by PCC Stansfeld are 'none'.

So it would seem that he has no interests any more in the businesses that he has attached to his name to in the past.

So, is that the end of the story?

Truth, leadership and PCC teams

As a leadership development adviser, I maintain a continuing interest in Machiavelli as I think he has had something of a bad press over the last few hundred years. People who are inclined to regard him as a proponent of scheming and unethical leadership have often not read his original text. If you have not read "The Prince", I recommend that you do. (I read George Bull's 1961 Penguin translation several years ago.)

Why am I mentioning this? In the last few days my mind drifted towards his advice to leaders on selecting advisers (aka deputies and assistant police and crime commissioners) and I dug out my other blog post about this:
‘A prince must therefore always seek advice… he must always be a constant questioner, and he must listen patiently to the truth regarding what he has inquired about’
I knew a Chief Executive once who was so ‘pleased’ with the results of a staff survey he had commissioned that he had the resulting report copies and all the questionnaires shredded.
  • Do you have people around you who tell you the truth? 
  • How do you know?
  • If the truth is not what you want to hear – how do you react?
  • How does your leadership inspire truth?
And on holding back the truth
‘…moreover if he finds that anyone for some reason holds the truth back he must show his wrath’
  • Within your team – what do you do to ensure full and frank discussions?
  • How do you make it clear to them that you need the truth?
My contention then and now, is that the best leaders have people around them whom they can trust to tell them the truth about what is happening and indeed them challenge them. If leaders surround themselves with 'yes' men & women, who are dependent upon their patronage, they are likely to be missing huge opportunities for the development of robust strategy.

These are very early days for PCCs and there is much water to flow under their bridges before the next election in May 2016. Three questions stand out for me:

How many PCCs will exercise the kind of 'truth seeking' leadership being described by Machiavelli above?

How effective will Police & Crime Panels be in providing 'truthful' feedback to their PCC?

If the answer to the above question is 'not very', will other networks be needed in order to hold PCCs to account for their promises to make substantive improvements in crime reduction and community safety?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Is the PCC solely accountable to the PCP?

This morning, I penned an email to the members of my local police and crime panel. I thought you might be interested to see what I have asked them:
Dear Member of the Thames Valley Police and Crime Panel
Yesterday, I received an unexpected email from PCC Stansfeld as a second reply to an inquiry I sent him a couple of weeks ago. (I have blogged my original question and his answer here and here fyi). As his latest email to me mentions the PCP, I am sending it to you for information and with some follow up questions for you: 
Dear Mr Harvey,
It is difficult to produce a baseline value for the current balance between rural and urban policing. The main reason is that most Local Police Areas (LPAs) have both an urban and a rural element. West Berkshire for instance is a large rural area that includes Newbury and the western outskirts of Reading. It is only the major towns and cities that are essentially urban e.g. Reading, Slough and Oxford.
What I do not intend to do is alter in any significant way the existing balance of police numbers in the LPAs, nor would I expect to ask for this as it is essentially an operational matter.
I do not intend to enter into what will be a political dialogue with you as you are a party activist. The Police and Crime Panel will be scrutinising how effective I am in achieving my pledges. If you have a personal issue on policing I will be delighted to reply. 
Kind regards
Anthony Stansfeld | Police & Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley 
As you know, PCC Stansfeld made a specific pledge concerning the balance between urban and rural policing in his winning manifesto. He also pledged “to ensure that the Police budget is targeted effectively”. All this prompts me to ask you a series of questions.
  1. How important is it to you that the PCP holds PCC Stansfeld to account for achieving the pledges on which he based his campaign?
  2. If it is important, how will you be doing this, specifically, pledge by pledge?
  3. From your perspective are matters relating to the deployment of police resources (temporarily or over a longer term) a matter for the Chief Constable’s operational discretion (informed by evidence and data no doubt) or is this a matter for the PCC? (PCC Stansfeld’s email seems to me to be saying both…)
  4. Currently Thames Valley Police use a Resource Allocation Formula based upon Population 30%, Recorded Crime 35% and Incidents (excluding Crime and Admin) 35% (a matter I have blogged about in the past). Do you foresee the PCC having any authority over altering the nature of the existing formula?
  5. If (say) Aylesbury Vale experienced an unforeseen and dramatic rise in rural crime (such as the rising incidence of the theft of agricultural vehicles), would you expect the PCC to react to this by asking the Chief Constable to allocate extra police officers and staff towards tackling this?
  6. As most of the PCP are councillors, do you see yourself as a body composed mostly of ‘political activists’? 
  7. What view do you have of PCC Stansfeld’s last couple of sentences where he seems to me to say that he believes his only line of scrutiny is to the PCP and that I (as a resident, town councillor and member of a political party) am only entitled to ask him questions relating to ‘personal’ issues?
I look forward to your replies. Thank you.
Very best wishes and seasonal greetings
NB Not circulated: Terry Burke or Rajinder Sohpal as I can find no contact details for them. I would be grateful if this email could be forwarded to both of them. (Also Cllr David Carroll not circulated as I presume, as appointed Deputy PCC, he is no longer a member of the Panel)
I now await their replies.

Odd how there is no way of contacting the two independent members. Indeed the site listing all the people on the panel has rather a lot of addresses not supplied. Hopefully this will change as the panel shifts up a gear in coming months.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The ordinary people test

These are exceptionally busy days for the new Police & Crime Commissioners.

No matter how experienced they were in their previous roles, I am imagine they are all on a very steep learning curve. Moreover, there will be a legion of people wanting some of their time in order to start building long term relationships of trust and mutual influence. Added to this will be the fast moving conveyor belts taking them towards producing their budgets, precept proposals and policing plans (and the conveyor belts may not be all heading in the same direction let alone towards the manifesto pledges on which they were elected).

If I were a PCC, I would imagine that I could well feel as if my time were not my own any more.

Nonetheless, I would like to ask all PCCs a question: how many conversations have you had in the last two weeks or so with 'ordinary' people? By ordinary I exclude anyone holding an official position as officer or member relating to your task as PCC. By ordinary I include a real live victim of crime, or a person from residents' association, or a parent of young person mixed up in crime, or a student who is afraid to walk to college etc.

How many conversations?

And how will you continue to have these conversations, if not many more of them, as you get ever deeper into the small 'p' politics of your job? Have you arranged a schedule of surgeries in the localities that you now look after? How are you going to find out what the 'ordinary' people who elected you, want, hope and need from the police services and crime agencies that you now oversee?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Deputy Dawg

There are mounting concerns about the appointment of deputy and assistant Police & Crime Commissioners with accusations of cronyism and the cavalier use of public moneys. This morning, the Times published a story (behind their paywall) about "New police commissioners appoint ‘cronies’ to top jobs". Tempting though it is to get into unpicking each of the decisions that have been made by PCCs and Police & Crime Panels in recent days, I don't think that is a helpful way forward.

I say this, because there now seem to be a legion of people out to make the jobs of PCCs as difficult as possible combined with many commentators who are only now waking up to the fact that these positions exist, and the powers that they have. I am in the 'let's try and make the PCCs as effective as possible' camp since I think that we owe this to the people who depend on the police and crime agencies to do a good job.

Carping on about how poor a governance model this is and how PCC salaries should be paying for constables instead etc. frankly gets us nowhere now. Indeed this activity distracts from proper scrutiny of what the PCCs are doing and achieving with public money. This is where the attention of the concerned critics should lie in my opinion. (For example I wrote to my PCC Anthony Stansfeld ten days ago asking him: "I have been examining all your pledges made during the campaign - to reduce crime and drive up detection rates / to maintain the balance between urban and rural policing / to ensure that the Police budget is targeted effectively / to protect vulnerable people / to ensure the Police act firmly and fairly, using good judgement to deal with the public politely, gaining their respect and acting with integrity.... Please would you inform me when and where you will publish baseline & tracking data for all these pledges so that the Thames Valley voting public may observe your progress towards meeting your pledges over the term of your office." I have not received a reply yet.)

Moreover, I am proud to be one of a small band of people who are actively seeking to support PCCs in their task (both in my own right as an experienced organisational development adviser and through CoPaCC as I have outlined below). In my view, anyone with a concern for what the police and related agencies do, is morally obliged to try and make this model of governance work in order to create a just future, fair for all. There will come a time to examine fully this governance model and probably replace it with something better. But that time is not right now, in my opinion.

But to return to the issue of the Deputy and Assistant PCC positions. Anyone with an ounce of nous knows that the PCC job is huge one and will need a considerable team to make it work. True, some PCCs still think it is a part time job but anyone who really believes in public engagement and real democracy knows they have their work cut out! So the question facing all PCCs (among a whole raft of them...) is "what team structure do I need in order to carry out my role and implement my manifesto commitments properly?" Some PCCs have answered this question swifter than others and time will tell whether the structures they have created will work well or not. (I put up my starter for ten below, some weeks ago.)

But for those who are still ruminating on what structure to have, may I ask this question: what design principles need to underpin your organisational structure? In other words what will the structure need to achieve and be known for in order for it (as a structure) to be judged a success? (This is a similar question that an architect would ask you when designing a new home for you: form follows function...)

In my professional experience, many people when they come to carry out a restructuring or creation of a new structure ignore the 'form follows function' rule that I think works well. Instead they follow the 'form follows folk' rule and create a structure around the people that they want. I hope that PCCs choose to follow the former not the latter approach and construct their 'Office of PCC' structures in a logical, considered and focused way.

Of course my Secret PCC had other matters on his mind....

Thursday, December 6, 2012

In an ideal world...

In an ideal world we would not need the police.

People would spontaneously and happily regulate themselves, only acting in the best interests of themselves and all those around them. If conflicts occurred at all, people would sit down over a cup of tea, listen to each other and find a reasonable solution that all parties could live with if not totally support. People would not abuse those who were vulnerable, they would not steal, be violent to others or commit fraud... and when they got drunk, they would simply tell good jokes and go somewhere quiet to sleep off the alcohol. All drivers would stick to the speed limits, leave sufficient stopping distance between themselves and the vehicles in front and generally be courteous and tolerant road users.

In an ideal world...

Newspapers would report the news fairly and without bias... and offer a range of opinions to help readers make up their own minds. The interests of the proprietors would be secondary to a focus on finding the truth about hypocrisy, corruption, fraud and sneaky behaviour by those who have power or influence. Newspapers would challenge people to think about ethics and the hard choices we face as a society, as well as entertaining people with witty, charming, insightful and beautiful articles. Phones would not be hacked, grieving families would not be doorstepped aggressively and salacious or grubby stories would not be leaked to the press by public servants, unless there was a real concern for the public interest.

In an ideal world...

Self regulation would work and the Press Complaints Council or variations on that theme would be enough.

But sadly, we do not live in an ideal world so we need the police and we now need a "robust independent self-regulation of the press of a kind that has not been provided or suggested by the industry up to now".

To go on: "Liberty is in complete agreement with the Judge's view of the necessary characteristics of such a body whose board must be independent of current editors, owners and politicians. It must set and promote ethical standards, handle complaints and crucially offer a swift and cheap alternative to court action for members of the public whose rights (e.g. privacy and reputation) have been violated. No statute is needed to create such a body and editors and proprietors should take the Leveson characteristics and seek to build one without delay." (Full text here)

Let us ensure that the Leveson Report is fully implemented - because we do not live in an ideal world - as some newspapers have made abundantly clear. You can sign the Hacked Off petition here:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Digital democracy & community engagement

Yesterday I was alerted to a new report written by Public-i about how PCCs have the opportunity to grab with both hands the possibilities of social media and Web 2.0 to tap into the needs / wishes / wants of the communities they serve. (The report was commissioned by the APCC and published by them here in full). I have only read the summary of the report, but I commend the whole report to you.

Without doubt, in my opinion, the boldest and the best PCCs will be actively seeking ways of reaching out to their hundreds of thousands (and millions in some cases) of constituents to listen to what they think are the key policing priorities, among other communication objectives. In other words they will be seeking to build dialogues with their communities. There will be PCCs who will only be seeing the web as a means to transmit messages and thus missing huge opportunities to engage and learn. (I hope there will be no PCCs who will ignore the web altogether...)

But also, let us not forget, that PCCs will still need to be out there and meeting people in the flesh. How they meet people will be critical to the success of these new positions, in my opinion...

Yesterday I attended a meeting which was billed as a consultation. Many people (approximately 80 I reckon) had given up their own time to be there: to listen, learn and be listened to. A good array of sandwiches was put on and then at about 12.30, the chair of the event announced the start of the event.

We were then talked at for over 80 minutes solid, leaving less than 10 minutes (within the formal allocated time) for 'Q&A'. I was not the only one who a) highlighted that this was not a consultation meeting and b) it was a real & palpable lost opportunity. (I am being oblique here as I do not wish to name the organisation in question. But essentially a way forward was being described and the very people who could help with the implementation of that strategy were in the room but were not given the chance to offer their ideas.)

I was immensely frustrated! As were many others, I believe.

How many other meetings or events or conferences are just like this one? We are in the middle of a severe economic crisis in the UK and beyond into the world. If I am being bold, I regard it as immoral that meetings can still be organised to tackle some aspect of this crisis but the process of the meeting inhibits full debate, suppresses creativity and/or fails to harness the brainpower, expertise & commitment in the room. It is quite simply wrong, dammit!

Now I do not accuse the conveners of these meetings to be so wrapped up in their power & egos that they are malevolently constructing meetings to force their views of the world on to other people.

Instead I prefer to consider that people just do not know that there are a 1000+ ways to make meetings more productive for all concerned. However, they just slip into the usual way of doing things, usually with good intent. But we all know that if you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always got...

And so I appeal again (yes I have written about this before - here for example), please if you are convening a meeting of any kind... if you think that:
  • the world is a scary, complex and fast changing place that needs new ways of organising / allowing more of the 'right' things to happen...
  • most meetings, events and conferences set up to find those 'right' things and take them forward just don't do it very well...
  • somebody's 'platform power' often means that many others lose power and voice, but that it doesn't have to be this way..
  • there is often so much attention paid to inputs/outputs that lasting outcomes (and the imagination to take us there) hardly get a look in...
  • you would like to find out more: learn, share and support other people who think like you....
... then contact me or a 1000 other good facilitators around the world who can help you make a real difference to your meetings. Please!

I sincerely hope that PCCs will use their power to ensure that the public engagement meetings that they are involved with are full of innovation, conversation and, indeed, palpitation! Good meetings excite people with dynamic ideas!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Yesterday, saw the first meeting between the 41 PCCs and the Home Office team of ministers and civil servants. The tweets from some of the people involved revealed a packed and interesting meeting, I wish I had been a fly on the wall!


In response to Sue Mountstevens' question, my father once won a local TV competition for suggesting collective nouns. As a headteacher himself, he won with a 'roll of heads'... So in the family tradition, may I propose 

A whirlwind of PCCs

  • That is probably how is feels right now for the PCCs, their Chief Constables and the Home Office...
  • It is the hope that PCCs will bring a breath of fresh (and swirling?) air to public engagement with police priorities and new levels of accountability
  • And that somewhere 'over the rainbow' is even more community safety, less crime and fear of crime...

Or do you have a better collective noun for PCCs? If so, please share below. Thanks.