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.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The 'not giving a floating duck' problem (Secret Diary of a PCC)

Well, I am totally stuffed: not just by the turkey, fox & game pie but also by the Home Secretary and her velveteen apparatchiks in Marsham Street. They want to cut my grant by nearly £6m in the next financial year! What?!? A precept rise of 2% won't cover it. And if I dare have a referendum to seek support for a (say) a 4% rise and then lose, I would have to pay the cost of said referendum (£1.2m) out of money I do not have. So here I am: stuck between a huge Christmas cake and a mountain of cold, solid Christmas pudding.

And despite crime coming down, demand is rising like my beagle's blood pressure on Boxing day. Just when I thought the Chief Constable had managed to match resources to requirements over the festive season, along comes the bloomin' rain and the overtime budgets float down the river. So much for the Big Society... when the crisis hits the fan, people expect the public services to turn out.

(And I see the PM got an earful down in Kent yesterday. Of course Kent County Council have been proud not to increase their council tax over the last four years! Chickens coming home to roost eh?! And it's not as if Eric Pickles' doesn't know about flooding, but piffle, that was last Christmas and we have learnt so much since then...! Pickles will, of course, carry on offering up Local Authority grants for the biggest cuts of all, no matter what.)

So what to do? I am thinking outsourcing is the only way ahead. As with PFI, I will just have to mortgage the future in order to make the present finances balance. Yes I know there are risks but I really have no option. We need cheaper policing...

Of course once we do outsource, the biggest risk we run is loss of that public service commitment we see so often: where police officers and staff will put their boots on, on Christmas Day to help people in need. I worry that if staff and officers are working for profit making companies, (putting it bluntly) they might not give so much as a floating duck about emergencies beyond what they are contracted to perform. But I believe I have covered this risk by drafting this clause to go into the contracts we will be agreeing with future private sector providers:

As a contracted supplier to NorthFordWestshire (NFWshire) you will be required to:
  • Not worry about profits during times of public emergencies
  • Go all extra and unforeseeable miles during said emergencies
  • Ensure employment regulations expressly require all staff to remain chipper and jauntily committed to serving the public during such emergencies 
  • Have a robust volunteer / Big Society strategy that will result in an immediate doubling of resources in times of crisis at no extra cost to the public purse
  • Apply these clauses whenever the commissioner thinks it is an emergency
I cannot see a problem with the likes of G4Sercapita agreeing to such contractual terms. Can you?

Happy New Year! 

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