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.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Conservative view on the whole Paris Brown affair

Twitter pal, reflective practitioner and ex copper Peter Walker has posted on the whole Paris Brown affair on Conservative Home today. It is a good article and I commend it to you. Naturally, I could not resist commenting, which I republish below.


Reflective post Peter - as always. And you know, I have blogged lots about this case as well. I happen to think that appointing a Youth PCC is an experiment worth pursuing (alongside the even bigger and much more costly experiment of electing PCCs). There are other models of course - including notably the approach being taken by Bob Jones in the West Midlands to engage with young people.

The appointment made by Ann Barnes however, spun out of control and even though, like you, I thought & hoped that Paris and Ann might just come through it, it was not to be so. However, assuming that you believe that elected politicians should follow through on their manifesto pledges, Ann will, at this very moment, be mounting another recruitment exercise. She has no choice.

The question will be how she manages the next process after the mounting criticism of her. Vetting someone's social media footprint is not without its hazards either as their are huge opportunities for data protection infringements etc.

Like you, I wish Paris well - I hope she manages to move well beyond all this.

As for PCC manifesto pledges that have not been thought through... how about this one from Anthony Stansfeld, Conservative PCC for Thames Valley. He pledged to "maintain the balance between urban and rural policing". After he was elected, I asked him how the public of Thames Valley could monitor his achievement of this pledge. Here is what he wrote back:

"I intend to keep the present balance of police numbers between Local Police Areas (LPAs) unchanged.  It is not possible to give the baseline breakdown between urban and rural areas as many LPAs have both rural and urban areas within them.  For instance West Berkshire is essentially small towns and rural areas, yet it contains the western urban areas of Reading.  Milton Keynes again is both rural and urban, as is Buckinghamshire. What I don’t envisage is moving numbers of Police between LPAs , either from or into, more rural or urban areas."

Aside from the fact that as a PCC with no operational powers to move numbers of police anyway, it would appear he made a pledge that really had no way of being measured. Moreover the constabulary also told me that "Thames Valley Police does not record this data in a centralised format and would need to review a significant amount of records with reference to the resourcing of each officer to retrieve it."

Meanwhile the newly elected PCC is being reported and quoted as

...Rural crime is prioritised in the plan too, and Mr Stansfeld said: “Previously, I think the serious effects of this may have been underestimated but it will now be tackled with the seriousness it warrants – it’s unacceptable to have criminal gangs preying on rural communities. Stealing heavy plant machinery has increased and we’ve got to stop it.” (Article is here)

So not only did Mr Stansfeld make a pledge which could not be measured, this has not stopped him from making a priority in his new plan which is at odds with his manifesto pledge. And I thought PCCs were meant to be bold experiment in democracy?

Of course the Daily Mail are not interested in highlighting this because a) Mr Stansfeld is not female and 17 b) he is a Conservative and (probably) c) his social media footprint is not nearly as salacious (although there are unanswered questions...)

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