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, March 24, 2014

Congratulations to Martyn Underhill

Over the weekend, Bernard Rix released his decision on which PCCs should be commended for the public engagement work and which one should receive the CoPaCC Gold Award. He chose the Dorset PCC, Martyn Underhill.

As people know, I assisted Bernard with this thematic and naturally we talked about who should be commended and who should get the Gold Award. This decisions were all Bernard's but his choice of Dorset is one that I wholeheartedly support.

Martyn, like most PCCs I would expect, has his critics, fierce and otherwise. Indeed, I would contend that if PCCs are not making waves, creating debate and stimulating people to challenge what they are doing, then they are not doing their job. There will have some people who at least raised an eyebrow at the selection of Martyn for the top spot.

It is also important to point out that all those commended were chosen on the basis of their own submissions (with some cross referencing from third party sources). There has been no systematic objective analysis of how well any PCC is doing with regard to public engagement. CoPaCC does not have the resources to do this (yet). But then no organisation with those resources has done one either. This thematic review is a good start and perhaps will stimulate a more detailed study to come.

Meanwhile, why give the gold award to Martyn? I read through all the submissions and in my view, he has achieved the most in terms of outcomes and real change. It would appear to me that he has really has taken on board the voice of the public idea – more than the other PCCs. I very much liked his comment about there being no such thing as hard to reach – just more expensive to reach etc. Significantly, Martyn also talks about empowerment which readers will know is a principle that is close to my heart.

I am sure that Martyn would be the first to say that there is much more to do, not least in providing more objective data to support his descriptions of what he is achieving. And if you believe in deep public engagement as I believe Martyn does, there is always more listening and acting upon that listening to be done.

But let's have more of the debate about how well PCCs are engaging with their publics: it is after all what they are there to do! 

And well done Martyn, again.

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