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, June 13, 2013

Comparing the plans: the power of consultation

Last night there was a meeting in Reading where Thames Valley PCC Anthony Stansfeld gave a presentation and was open to questioning. I did not attend because a) it is quite a long way to go, not sure my satnav would tell me where to park, I felt a tad tired and my chauffeur has every Wednesday night off and b) I am not a Reading resident (any more) and c) I don't want Mr Stansfeld to think that I am stalking him.

Nonetheless, there were people there who I know and I have heard a little about what happened. I am led to understand that Mr Stansfeld is concerned that crime prevention resources are mostly deployed to areas where there is most crime. But perhaps he did not say that.

This got me wondering about how things were changing in his approach. And so this morning I dusted off my copy of the original draft of the Police & Crime Plan for Thames Valley and compared it to the one that is now published. I only compared the forewords (because I do have some other things to do today!).

Here is a brief summary.

Out has gone:
  • The opening line "The Police reduce crime primarily by catching those that commit it"
  • "Rural crime committed against isolated communities is endemic"
  • "Furthermore, where I believe partners are not playing their part, at whatever level of responsibility, I will take whatever action is open to me"
  • "I would hope to see this police involvement extended so that Thames Valley Police can pursue by way of criminal investigation of patient safety cases where there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime having been committed. This would include cases of neglect resulting in death"
  • "I do not believe that the legislation of controlled drugs is a sensible way ahead. The rehabilitation of offenders, whether in jail or outside establishments, is key to the reduction of household burglary"
  • "I will be proactive in seeking out the views of victims of crime about policing across the Thames Valley area so that I and partners can respond appropriately"
  • Indeed any mention of victims...
In has come:
  • "The primary purpose of the police and the criminal justice system is to reduce crime. This is achieved primarily by deterring criminals from committing crime and catching those that commit it"
  • "A key priority in my Plan is preventing the criminal abuse of vulnerable people, whether they are adults or children" (much higher up in the text)
  • "I do not believe that the legalisation of controlled drugs is a sensible way ahead; instead we should look to reduce burglary by rehabilitating offenders" (I am sure the 'legislation' was a typo!)
  • "I believe the technical advances in ‘global positioning system’ (GPS) tagging offer a way to reduce reoffending by making the wearing of these tags a condition of early release from prison"
  • "The Police and Crime Plan for the Thames Valley aims, with our many partners, to continue to reduce crime and the causes of crime within our area, and to do so with the most efficient and effective use of the public money that is made available to me" (final sentence the same except the last word is 'me' not 'us' now)
There is much that is the same although large tracts did not make the final cut (the new version is 534 words shorter that the original 1114). I have uploaded a comparison document to my Google drive if you want to have look at the two versions side by side.

You will take your own view from the comparison. But I think what it shows (on paper at least) is wiser and more circumspect understanding of the criminal justice system. The second version has more of a partnership feel about it to me with less of the admonishing tone of the first draft ("I will take whatever action is open to me"). I am glad about this. There is a greater nod towards prevention and deterrence. I am concerned that victims do not seem to have made the final version of the foreword. What happened there?

So, on the basis of this data, consultation and reflection does broadly seem to work... (and who knows maybe my critique had some impact too?)

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