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, November 24, 2013

The magic of Brasso (Secret diary of a PCC)

Well, here we are, just over a year in post and I am still here! I think that is some achievement.

Some of my close friends said I wouldn’t make it. In various ways they suggested that my straight talking and no nonsense approach to governance would get me into hot water. Well – hah! to them!

OK, I have gone through a couple more chief constables than I expected and the irritating Police & Crime Panel are becoming even more damn irritating and increasing my intake of aspirin… But they haven’t got rid of me yet (in fact they can’t unless I break the law). I think my chain of office is beginning to work its magic. People are respecting me more, especially when I get the Brasso out before a big meeting or press briefing.

And yes, there were some others who thought that my congenital ‘foot in mouth’ syndrome (inherited from my dear departed Brigadier Father) would get me into trouble with the local and national media. Well I have shown them too! I have been more than able to say stupid things and… get away with it! I do think the chain of office is helping there as well.

So what is the real secret (beyond the Brasso)? Well, I think I have been fortunate to stay mostly invisible. Even if I say daft things, I can be fairly sure that nobody really cares. Looking around the country, I can see I am in good company with some other PCCs still doing pretty silly things themselves and getting away with it. The fact is, most people still don’t know that we really exist, and even if they do know, they have no idea what we actually do…

If you try not to make too much of it and keep your head below the parapet (unlike those idiot PCCs who are organising blethering summits, earnest ‘listening’ public engagement events and other new public management paraphenalia), it is rather a peachy job. There are lots of jollies up in London, the Home Secretary has a rather good stock of fancy biscuits and then there’s the occasional chance to stroke a police horse’s head.

And on top of this, of course, I have the government protecting my back: PCCs can do no ill. We are officially immune. The Home Sec is never going to admit that a fair few of the elected PCCs would probably be no better at running a bank than the erstwhile chairman of the Coop. We are, quite simply, the apples of her eye. Indeed, I fully expect a future Tory government to give me even more responsibility. I cannot wait: there will be even more meetings in London to go to where I can consume good biscuits and take in a show at the end of the day (on expenses of course).

So time for a glass of wine to toast my first year of office… May there be many more!

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