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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Frankly, I am amazed

News has been breaking in the last 24 hours that Tom Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary wore a uniform that looked remarkably like a ceremonal police uniform to the National Police Memorial Day service at St David’s Hall in the Welsh capital to remember police officers killed on duty. You can see a picture of the uniform here on the Not The Daily Mail blog. But here it is also:

Only a few days ago, I wrote a blog that praised Mr Winsor's insight and then he goes and does this. According to Ian Chisnall, citing the HMIC website (though I cannot find the link), he is certainly entitled to wear such a uniform... However, the reaction from police twitterati & bloggerdom has been swift and scathing. Here is one example of a collection of comments.

What was he thinking?

When his appointment was being mooted and the Home Affairs Select Committee was examining his appointment, this Telegraph Blog said:
The [Home Affairs Select] Committee proceeded today anyway, interviewing Mr Herbert and Mr Winsor himself on the suitability of the appointment. Mr Winsor's lack of policing experience troubled the Committee. How could he run an organisation without understanding the day-to-day life of an officer? How could the Government turn to him for operational advice? Mr Herbert put up a strong case, arguing that the job has evolved. It requires someone staunchly independent who "could speak truth to power", telling the Government and the police "things they didn't want to hear". And on the operational side, Mr Herbert argued that the Government could seek advice from a new professional policing body that it is being established – one that will be run by an ex-police officer. Speaking for himself, Mr Winsor argued that the 349 days he had spent working on the policing report had given him a strong understanding of the organisation. Particularly as much of that time was spent interviewing and accompanying police officers in their work. He also said his experience of the private sector could help improve management of the police – particularly in the use of outdated technology and the deployment of front-line staff. He was shocked that an experienced officer could waste half a shift waiting for documentation to be processed through outdated systems
So it would appear that Mr Winsor made much of his non police officer status.

And then he attends the service sepcifically designed to remember officers who have fallen in the line of duty, who had been proud to wear their uniform, and proud to serve the public. And Mr Winsor elects to wear something that looks like a Ruritanian Field Marshall?


Did he think he would be showing more respect this way? If so, how come Prince Charles attended in an ordinary suit, with no medals or scrambled egg on his shoulders. (See here for the pic of Prince Charles)

Why did HMCIC dress like this?

As far as I can see, there is as yet no statement from HMIC concerning this (1140 on 30/9/13) I await developments...

UPDATE: BBC News are now running this story which includes an explanation from Mr Winsor and comments from others including the Police Federation. I will be interested to see what happens next year.

Also, I am curious as to whether any other HMI (from a non police background) has ever worn the official HMIC uniform to any ceremonial events before? Did Kate Flannery for example ever get to wear this uniform?

Friday, September 27, 2013

PCCs and panels: Making the relationship critical, friendly and effective (article)

If you want to read more about this conference that CoPaCC have cooked up for 16 October, then go to Police Professional in hard copy or online here.

Here is a taster...
It is ten months since police and crime commissioners (PCCs) took office and the first anniversary of PCCs’ election is fast approaching. Police and crime panels (PCPs) will also mark their first birthday as the scrutiny body to be the check and balance for PCCs. However, it seems that few PCP members will feel there is much to celebrate. While the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 gave PCCs strategic control of police forces, panels were granted very few powers to accompany their responsibility to scrutinise their PCC. Notably, on surrendering her Hertfordshire panel membership in apparent frustration earlier this year, elected Watford Mayor Dorothy Thornhill suggested the body was no more than “a crocodile with rubber teeth”....
The event is pretty well full, but there might be a couple of spare slots of you are interested. You can apply here. Watch this space for the report of the event.

Deputy Dawg

This was one of my favourite cartoons when I was a child: I enjoyed the accents and the daft story lines. I was also a little intrigued that a deputy police sheriff had so much time on his hands (although that more sophisticated thought may have come a few years later). You can see an old episode here if you need a small shot of nostalgia.

Anyway.... a while back I got to wondering what the Deputy PCC here in Thames Valley spends his time doing so I inquired. You may find the results of interest. Back in the early part of July, I asked "Please may I have a list of all the meetings and events that the Deputy PCC has attended since he was appointed. These might be internal meetings (OPCC staff and PCC only) or meetings with offices/staff of the constabulary or meetings with external stakeholders (including the public of course)."

I was sent a hard copy list of appointments from 20/12/12 to 4/7/13. I have digitized this list and added my classifications of the various meetings. (I would that at the bottom of the list was a statement which said "The Deputy has regular meetings with the PCC when both are at the Kidlington Office") 

This item as a spreadsheet is available here too. (The pic is not that good.)

Some of the items listed had (am) or (pm) added to them in which case I have listed those as a half day. In all other cases, I have listed it at a whole day. This yields a total of 72 working days out of a potential 136, assuming that dates listed are whole or 'whole half' days. Cllr David Carroll is employed on a 0.6 contract / 22.2 hours per week and is paid £35,000 a year for this (pro rata full time salary would be £58,333). Details of his terms and conditions can be found here in Annex C.

Other things to note are the number of days he is in the office, including his 'Hazlemere Office' which was requested on the 19/12/12. The building is also used by the TVP Hazlemere Neighbourhood Team. The conversion of space for Cllr Carroll to use cost £1,406.

It would appear that the DPCC spent 4 days in his first half year of service engaging with the public whereas he spent 17 days in the 'office'. (These are my classifications of course.) So that is 6% meeting the public and nearly a quarter of his time 'in the office'. There were 14 days for police liaison as well.

What other observations would you make?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The presentation of stage two transfers

Whilst this sounds like something organised by the Football Association, many will now know this is a process embedded in the new arrangements for police service governance. The APCC produced a helpful summary of some of the issues involved a while back which includes this paragraph:
The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act (the Act) which creates PCCs also sets out a second  Stage 2’ transfer which refers to the subsequent movement of certain staff, property, rights and  liabilities from the PCC to the chief constable. The stage 2 transfer is designed to allow elected PCCs the freedom to make their own local arrangements about how their functions and those of the police force will be discharged in future. In establishing these local arrangements PCCs will wish to clarify with their chief constable who will employ which staff, hold which properties, liabilities and assets etc.
There is more information here as well. All PCCs and Chief Constables should by now have submitted their agreed plans to the Home Secretary. She will now review them.

I imagine the information will emerge soon as what the pattern is across England & Wales. What I am hoping for is to see it represented in this way:

Contract of employment with PCC
Contract of employment with CC
Directed/managed by PCC

Directed/managed by CC

Jointly directed/managed by PCC & CC

Directed/managed by CC but with specified & agreed influence by PCC
Directed/managed by PCC but with specified & agreed influence by CC

This will not only provide useful comparisons across the country but also, I believe, clarity for the staff involved.

What do you think?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Speak to us of Children

Children are often in the news, never far away from and often subject to the crises that adults create. One of my favourite books is "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran. (If you have never read it... you must!) So I turned this morning to the word of the prophet in Gibran's book when another frightening and terrible event unfurled, this time in Kenya. Here are those words:
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children".
And he said:
Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but are not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and
He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
So he loves also the bow that is stable.
I sometimes wish there were more stable bows in the world...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Eiji Toyoda, targets & PCCs

It might have escaped the notice of many PCCs (though not all I hope) that Eiji Toyoda died this week, aged 100. Reputedly, this is the man that led Toyota from producing as many cars a year as Ford were producing a day to the global business that it now occupies. Mr Toyoda has also been a beacon light in the quality and performance movement that has changed manufacturing processes across the world - the so called Toyota Way.

The first important thing to notice about the Toyota Way is that it is a philosophy of doing business, not a set of tools that some people mistake it for. You can read about it in any number of web sources and books: just use your search engine. But in summary there are 14 principles:
  1. Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.
  2. Create a continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface.
  3. Use “pull” systems to avoid overproduction.
  4. Level out the workload (heijunka). (Work like the tortoise, not the hare.)
  5. Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time.
  6. Standardized tasks and processes are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment.
  7. Use visual control so no problems are hidden.
  8. Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and processes.
  9. Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others.
  10. Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s philosophy.
  11. Respect your extended network of partners and suppliers by challenging them and helping them improve.
  12. Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation (genchi genbutsu).
  13. Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly (nemawashi).
  14. Become a learning organization through relentless reflection (hansei) and continuous improvement (kaizen).
One of the key elements of this philosophy is the use of targets. (Perhaps, you can see where I am going now: Police forces facing dozens of new performance targets BBC news) However, targets are a highly contentious issue in the 'right first time' approach to performance improvement. W. Edwards Deming, one of the gurus of the quality movement, consistently argued that companies should 'eliminate management by objectives' and 'eliminate fear' in his 14 points.

(Aside: why is 14 so special?)

The Toyota Production System certainly talks of targets (see, for example: "Kaizen also requires the setting of clear objectives and targets. It is very much a matter of positive attitude, with the focus on what should be done rather than what can be done" from this Toyota source.) But my understanding is this is mainly about work teams understanding what needs to be done and setting themselves goals, assessing their progress relative to these goals.

But please watch this: John Seddon (a follower of the Taiichi Ohno and the Toyota Production System & proponent of systems thinking) talking about "Cultural change is free: why targets make organisations worse" (09:50 in).

It seems clear to me that top down targets do not work. (I published my first article on the net about this back in 2003, the piece is still up there. I have blogged about this several times since as well.

And yet here we have being reported today, the fact that some (not all) PCCs find the lure of top down target setting irresistible: it seems to them to be the logical thing to do.

Despite the Home Secretary's protestations: what did she honestly expect? Create a system of political governance that focuses all the power on a single individual, emphasise the importance of local accountability, set up an electoral process that encourages a manifesto of pledges to be made, require the elected PCCs to produce a local Police & Crime Plan... and hey presto targets are set! Yes the Home Sec can proudly say that she no longer sets targets... but she has created a system which encourages their setting and deployment locally.

But what intrigues me most is not the fact that there are PCCs who have set targets but the ones who have not... There may be an element of politics here, as my colleague Bernard Rix has highlighted on his blog. It may also be that these PCCs are exhibiting a different kind leadership, and perhaps know a little bit about the stuff that Toyoda, Ohno & Seddon have discussed. Here is the list (from the BBC research) of the PCCs who have set targets:
  • Avon and Somerset - 4
  • Cambridgeshire - 12
  • Cumbria - 20
  • Devon and Cornwall - 4
  • Hampshire - 5
  • Hertfordshire - 14
  • Kent - 5
  • Leicestershire - 26
  • Norfolk - 9
  • Northamptonshire - 1
  • Northumbria - 8
  • Nottinghamshire - 21
  • Thames Valley - 10
  • Warwickshire - 6
  • West Mercia - 15
  • West Midlands - 4
  • West Yorkshire - 1
  • Wiltshire - 13
So, maybe, think about who is not on the list... instead. Are they using Toyoda's 14 principles I wonder?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Allocating scarce resources: the PCC role

One of the more contentious issues that many PCCs will be wrestling with will be how to allocate their funds to local Community Safety Partnerships. These are scarce and diminishing resources which support a good deal of preventative and proactive work by local authorities, the police and many other partners.

I have written about this before in the Guardian and here on this blog.

Now we have the words of the Thames Valley PCC on record at the PCP conference held in July. Go to one hour and 13 minutes in and you will hear him say "I slightly flinched.... I am not going to have local party politics telling me how to distribute that money"

Well he seems true to his word: in the agenda for the forthcoming Police & Crime Panel this Friday documentation of his proposals is conspicuously absent:

Now it is possible that there has been a private communication to the PCP members and/or to Local Community Safety Partnership leads, but what of public accountability? Public accountability is meant to be what PCC based governance system is all about?!

So come on Mr Stansfeld: be brave! Let the public see your proposals for how scarce resources to prevent crime should be shared out across Thames Valley. And then let's have the debate about whether your proposals are fair or not.

Or does public accountability stop with visiting a few country fairs and evening meetings around Thames Valley?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

HS2, 51m & £0.87m

Over the last few months I have been investigating the 51m alliance. I have been doing this ever since Cllr Martin Tett made a public commitment to reveal the full financial affairs of 51m at a public hustings in Aylesbury on 25 April this year.

I said to the assembled panel “Should the public be able to see easily where and on what the 51m group’s money (that’s our money) is being spent.” In response, Cllr Tett said very clearly “the breakdown of that I can make available” with no qualification about this being only the BCC slice nor indeed that this would be limited by merely complying with the law on disclosure. (The online recording by BBC Three Counties Radio of that meeting is no longer available but I am sure could be accessed if needs be.)

However, the breakdown has not been made available by him, so I have been using FoI to discover some interesting facts...

First here is a description of the group taken from their website:

’51m’ is an alliance of councils that has come together to challenge the evidence base about the HS2 project. They are known as “51m” because that represents how much HS2 will cost each and every Parliamentary Constituency…£51million

There is a list of the councils which have 'come together' on this page. You might be forgiven for thinking (as I did) that each of the councils would have all pitched in to support 51m financially. You might even have thought that they would have made equal or perhaps pro rata (depending on the size of the council) contributions.

This is not the case. Some councils have paid nothing in while others have paid far more than most others. 19 councils are listed. The total sum donated/spent is £872,000 (rounded to nearest thousand). So of every council had donated an equal share, they would each have paid about £45,000. Here is the list of what they have actually contributed over the last two years of 51m's existence:

Six of the nineteen councils have contributed zero cash (ie taxpayers' money). Seven councils have contributed more than the 'average' of £45k. The taxpayers of Aylesbury Vale and Chiltern District Councils (which includes me) have paid the most since combining the District and County council contributions, we have paid more than anyone else. Buckinghamshire County Council (which Cllr Martin Tett leads) has contributed less than several smaller councils on the list. 

Surprised? (I was)

I would have thought that at the very least, all the councils listed would have paid something... but it appears not. (In case you are wondering, I do have all the FoI emails validating this data. And also for the record, I am not a supporter of HS2 and I sincerely hope the next government will choose to spend the money allocated to it on more worthwhile projects.) 

Now you may be wondering where has all this money been gone? I asked for spreadsheets for the 51m accounts from Buckinghamshire County Council, since they are the hosting organisation for the group. There are many sundry items which I am not going to list here. Instead, here are the two main payments made by the 51m group:

£103,562.50 has been paid to a Mr Stokes who was procured as an independent contractor (although you can see details about him here). His services have been described in correspondence to me as "Mr C J Stokes is a rail expert with 40 years of experience.  He provided technical expertise which enabled 51m to respond effectively to the 2011 HS2 Consultation, provided evidence to the Transport Select Committee Inquiry, developed 51m’s Optimised Alternative, was an expert witness during the Judicial Review, prepared letters and briefings, attended meetings, prepared maps, reviewed DfT business case information, prepared submissions to the Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office and other technical work."

I asked how Mr Stokes was procured and I was told that his fee is below the OJEU level and no other tenders were sought. The procurement process was judged to be exempt from wider tendering on the basis of "urgency and expertise".

It would seem evident that Mr Stokes knows his stuff! However... what do the taxpayers of the contributing local authorities think about that amount of money being paid to a single individual without any competitive tendering, I wonder?

But a far bigger amount has been paid out:

£389,502.04 has been paid to Harrison Grant Solicitors. Although legal services are a ‘Part B’ service which means they are exempt from OJEU advertising, I asked about where the awarded contract was published. I was told "the contract was published on the South East Business Portal. The estimated value published was £130,000 at that time". So the contract has more than trebled since it was first let.

I did some more digging. I wanted to know how they were procured. I asked:

Where did you advertise the initial tender? How many organisations responded? Which other organisations were unsuccessful? By what specific criteria were the various bids appraised? What questions were the tenderers asked in the interview? Why have you chosen not to retender given that the initial contract was for £130k and is now three times that amount? What contract management arrangements are in hand?

All very precise questions, I thought. Here is Buckinghamshire County Council's reply:

Bevan Britten and Sharpe Pritchard were asked to tender as they are our external partner lawyers, following a full tendering process. Harrison Grant was also invited to tender at the request of the London Borough of Hillingdon. Each firm submitted an expression of interest.  The three bids were appraised by in-house legal teams against our request for expressions of interest.  No formal interviews were held. Retendering was not undertaken as continuity and knowledge of the case was important. Harrison Grant’s rates represented good value for money and an efficient and effective working relationship had been formed with 51m.  Harrison Grant worked closely with the Buckinghamshire County Council  Programme Manager. Costs were reviewed, estimates provided by Harrison Grant and all agreed with 51m partners at each stage of the project.

I have no experience of procuring legal support (except when I have sought help with house moving etc) but I do note this:
  • Three existing suppliers were invited to tender (I therefore assume there was no public invitation)
  • They each submitted an expression of interest (in other words not a full proposal)
  • No formal interviews were held (was this a paper exercise only? Is that a good way to spend nearly £400k of taxpayers' money?)
  • The three bids were merely 'appraised' by the in house legal teams (no mention of what the specific criteria were..)
In your view, is this a good use of public money? 

In my view, being the wizened old political hack that I am, HS2 will only be halted politically. The notion that it could be stopped in the courts was at best unlikely, and at worst plain daft. Throwing nearly £400k at a legal challenge was, in my opinion, a waste of taxpayers' money. This is money that could have been far better spent on more worthwhile projects. And I seriously question the political judgement of those who took this course. 

Was this another vanity project sponsored by the local grandees to be at least seen to be doing something about HS2 but knowing that little would actually be achieved? Was this a way of out UKIPing UKIP? (Meanwhile, a firm of lawyers and a rail expert have done some rather good business.)

You pays your money: you can make up your own mind...

Monday, September 16, 2013

PCCs and Panels: Making the Relationship Critical, Friendly and Effective

  • Are you member of a Police & Crime Panel? 
  • Does their capacity to influence their PCCs and hold them to account interest you?
  • Do you want to compare and share best practice?
  • Are you free on October 16?
If your answer to any one of these questions is yes, you may well have an interest in attending the first CoPaCC conference (sponsored by Grant Thornton).

More details can be found here together with a full agenda for the day. We will be having lightning presentations from:
  • Lady Jenny Jones, AM
  • Mark Reckless, MP
  • Helen Kynaston (Leicestershire PCP)
  • Jon Collins (Police Foundation)
The bulk of the day will be spent addressing key questions such as:
  1. How can the legislative constraints upon the powers of the Panels be finessed to add more colour and depth to their scrutinising role? 
  2. How can Panels network, funnel and optimise the resources available to them so that they work as efficiently and effectively as possible? 
  3. What does a ‘year in the life’ of a Panel look like and what should be the focus of Panel work across the seasons?
  4. Given the inevitable tensions between a Panel and their PCC, what can be done to ensure such tensions are dynamic rather than destructive?
  5. How should the Panel, if at all, engage with the wider public in their work?
  6. What are the ‘cracking questions’ that all Panel members need to be adept at asking?
  7. What information does a Panel need on a regular basis in order for it to conduct its role well?
  8. How should a Panel engage with the Chief Constable and other senior officers of both the Police and connected agencies, if at all?
  9. What role does the Panel have in commenting upon the resource allocation formulas decided by the PCCs: both within the police service and with the distribution of other funds?
  10. How might the role of Panels need to develop in coming years: what legislative and other changes would be helpful to start planning for now?
  11. What role does a Panel have when scrutinising PCC decisions around the appointment and exit of Chief Constables
And many more no doubt...

So do please sign up to come along if this interests you. Places are filling fast and we only have a few left.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A week is a long time but ten years is an eternity...?

Business Minister Michael Fallon said on the R4 Today programme (1.55in) that "there is a ten year agreement between the Royal Mail and the Post Office" and by implication that local rural post offices were safe. He said ten years twice.

As we know, a week is a long time in politics and therefore ten years is an eternity. I mean, there will be at least two general elections in the ten years. So Michael Fallon feels safe. Who knows, he may retired by then.

But for the 'Capital Markets' (which the minister mentioned several times in the interview) ten years is really not that long. Businesses (unlike governments) plan for the long term. If I was an investor, I would be thinking OK, so I have ten years to wait but then I can clean up! All those pesky arrangements with two bit shops in the middle of nowhere can be abandoned in ten years time and the Royal Mail will then become even more slick, profitable and valuable... Indeed all the while up to this ten year limit, I will be able to sell and resell credit swaps and all the usual clever gambles on my investment to make a proverbial killing!

What do you think?

Have the privatised industries so impressed you that we should be running headlong into another? Would you mind that the rural areas of the UK will gradually receive less of a service... Who knows what will happen if you live in the depths of Wales, Scotland or Yorkshire...

In my view, this is yet another example of where ideology could be about to destroy another feature of the British way of life. Do you want that happen?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

As much foresight as a bread pudding

Here is the full, unedited version of my letter published in the Buckingham Advertiser this week:
Dear Editor
Cllr Pearl Lewis in your paper last week did a valiant job in seeking to explain the basis for AVDC’s decision on the application to build 80 homes on the Moreton Road. However some serious questions remain unanswered which perhaps she or the chair of the committee might care to address:
Why has it taken AVDC this long to prepare the Vale of Aylesbury plan? Anyone with an ounce of foresight could have seen that we would be in the situation Cllr Lewis describes where we are caught between the old and new housing plans. If AVDC had got it skates on, this could have been avoided.
Given that she reports that the plan may well be challenged by housing developers for being too low on housing projections, has AVDC engaged with these developers? Was there room for a deal to be struck that would have satisfied all and smoothed the way for the plan to be approved? Has AVDC been caught napping again?
And Cllr Lewis says the only basis on which the Planning Inspector’s judgement could be challenged was the housing numbers. What about the absence of any proper traffic impact measurement? And the fact that the Inspector overlooked the traffic impact on Maids Moreton mostly on the basis that the person who submitted some evidence on this failed to appear in person? (Indeed, where is Cllr Lewis’ criticism of the fact that Buckinghamshire County Council were advised by AVDC planning not to bother submitting further traffic challenges to the second application?) There were other measures on which to challenge the decision, in my opinion.
Moreover, when did legal action in the High Court against the original Planning Inspector’s decision cease? When did AVDC instruct its legal team to stop doing anything? Before or after the decision a couple of weeks ago?
The Town Council has, on many occasions, asked AVDC to enforce the conservation area in the centre of town only to be met with a very lack lustre response. If AVDC does not have the capacity / will / capability to enforce even its own planning regulations, why doesn’t the whole planning department and accompanying council committees just pack their collective bags and stop wasting our money on pointless & pusillanimous bureaucracy? Or are conservation areas just vanity projects for the Council?
And in terms of deciding not to pursue legal action when the likely outcome is failure, what about HS2? I understand and support the campaigns against HS2 (I think there are much better ways to spend public money and address capacity problems on our railways). But how likely was it that the 51m group (collection of councils campaigning against HS2) would ever succeed in stopping the high speed railway due to legal measures? AVDC  has contributed £124,000 of our money towards the campaign, much of which has been spent on legal action. Was this a good use of taxpayers’ money? Really? Again anyone with an ounce of ordinary common sense would know that HS2 will be defeated politically not legally. 
These are crucial questions about the quality of our local district council which appears to have strategic priorities at odds with local people and about as much foresight as a bread pudding. 
Sincerely yours

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Section 38 & misconduct

This morning I had the pleasure of reading through the John Harris Memorial Lecture that Tom Winsor (HMCIC) gave to assembled guests of the Police Foundation in the middle of July this year. He has joined an illustrious list of previous lecturers which you can see here.

In case you think I am being tongue in cheek: I am not. His words deserve your attention particularly in the light of events in some police areas in recent weeks. His lecture was entitled Operational independence and the new accountability of policing and he focused on the legalities underpinning the relationship between the PCCs and Chief Constables in the new governance environment.

I am told that the lecture is better read than listened to (an option on the Police Foundation site linked above) since it was quite intense. Apparently, even the tweeters had to give up their multi-tasking and listen closely! Certainly, I had to read a few paragraphs and sentences more than once to understand entirely the point he was making. But I do commend it to you.

If I was being picky, I was somewhat surprised he did not mention the Independent Police Complaints Commission nor reference the excellent words of the Patten Report on operational accountability.

In the lecture, Tom Winsor unpicks the precise pieces of legislation that relate to the PCC/CC relationship and the inviolability of operational independence (at least in legislative theory...)

I am not going to summarise the piece, but I will lift just one quote (with my added emphasis):
It follows that the section 38 power can only properly be exercised for reasons which are related to the performance by the chief constable of these duties and functions and which affect the achievement of local policing needs and related priorities, and not misconduct.
I think that all PCCs and Chief Constables would be well advised to read this lecture, if they have not done so already...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Petition: to rename a room as the Paralympic Room

I have just posted an electronic petition on the Aylesbury Vale District Council website - you can access it here.

The aim of the petition is very simple: I want us to persuade the Council to rename one of its rooms in its new flag ship conference centre (part of the DC offices) to become the Paralympic Room. This is for the simple reason that the Paralympics started in Aylesbury Vale, a couple of miles down the road from the Council offices in Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Currently the room is called the Olympic Room.

Obviously I have nothing against the Olympics! I just think the local council ought to be honouring our local heritage and being proud of the fact that Aylesbury Vale is home to the Paralympics, in the way that Mount Olympus in Greece is home to the Olympics.

What do you think?

If you agree with me, please sign the petition. Thank you!