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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It is collaboration, Tim, but not as you want it?

A small squall is brewing off the East coast as Norfolk & Suffolk police services and commissioners seek to resolve their differences over establishing a joint control room. The Ipswich Star reports on a event happening tomorrow when the two pairs of PCCs and Chiefs are having a summit meeting at Norfolk police HQ to sort out the matter. This has also been reported on by Sally Chidzoy from the BBC in recent weeks.

It is an old chestnut when it comes to collaboration: even when only two forces are involved, it is likely that one will benefit less than the other. Indeed the 'benefit' might be negligible or even negative. And if each collaboration project is seen in isolation, then each project faces failure if the 'losing' partner takes their ball home.

The question is, as it has always been with collaboration, can the players be strategic and see that where one initiative might be balanced in favour of one partner, the next initiative may well favour the other. But it is a tough call, especially when those making the decisions fear they may face the wrath of the voting public in a couple of years time.

From speaking to Tim Passmore last week at the Grant Thornton event, I know that he is committed to finding efficiencies through collaboration. (Although when I wickedly suggested that having one PCC for both Suffolk & Norfolk could immediately save the taxpayer a good deal of money, he was not so wild about that idea!) The article linked above, outlines some of the real risks identified by the Suffolk Chief Constable. The question is whether the four players involved can agree on a way forward that is best for all of the people in the two counties collectively - not just separately.

And if they cannot: what does this have to say about the future of collaboration under PCC governance? The eyes of many people, not just those of Suffolk & Norfolk, are on Wymondham tomorrow.

And I cannot leave this topic without linking it to calls to reform the whole 43 force structure after the next election. It is difficult to see, no matter who is voted into power, that the pressure to amalgamate resources will not inevitably push towards having fewer strategic policing bodies. 

UPDATE 1324 | 010514: It would appear that the decision to form a joint control room has been called off. The news story "Norfolk/Suffolk police control room merger plan scrapped" suggests that it was Mr Passmore (Suffolk PCC) who pulled the plug while Mr Bett (Norfolk PCC) is quoted as saying "I accept today's decision and now we move on. I am disappointed but not surprised". Hmmm.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Chief Constable Zero: the Secret PCC gets tough

After a very long and careful consideration of all the issues and consequences over a couple of macchiatos in Costa's last Saturday, I have decided to put the Chief Constable onto a zero hours contract.

He was not wild about the idea when I told him yesterday at our regular Friday afternoon chat but I told him my mind was made up. As the custodian of public money, I explained in straight forward language that I had no option: a zero hours contract would provide better value for money to the taxpayer. He went off grumbling about being a member of the Tax Payers Alliance too & finding out the location of the ANPR cameras near Douglas Carswell's house. But I have not heard from him since. He hasn't even been sanctimoniously live tweeting from his regular Saturday morning bike ride: trying to put the rest of us still in bed to shame. There has been only a single selfie tweet of him next to the Tolpuddle Martyrs memorial (or is that person part of the memorial?)

That was a long bike ride. He will be stiff in the morning! But I am not changing my mind. I mean, do you know that ACPO officers have a minimum holiday entitlement not a maximum one?! They swan off to meetings in London all the time, get invited to afternoon tea & cup cakes with the Bishop, read professional journals (cover to cover!) as if they need to still learn about how to be a police officer and parade around with their scrambled egg laden collars at councillor cocktail soirées.

Well, I have had enough of this and so have all the local tax payers. From now if he wants to "improoove his professional practice", or "networkkk with key stakeholders" or "influence Home Office strategyyy" (whatever that is when it's at home...), he can do it in his own bloomin' time. I am not paying for it any more. Zero hours (on a rolling 5 month contract to avoid any shenanigans that Red Ed wants to deploy) here we come.

From now on, all that I will contract him to do will be:
  • Disciplining and controlling his rather bonkers set of Deputy & Assistant Chief Constables
  • Pinning medals & commendations on police officers who actually go out onto the street to arrest the pond life that upset my ageing mother and her friends
  • Talking to the media and covering my back: making sure that everyone knows he is 110% behind my police & crime plan
And that is about it. Everything else he has been doing is just fluffy flim-flam that the hard working taxpayer should not be subsidising.


Legal disclaimer: just in case you thought this series of secret PCC blogs is based upon a real person or persons: it isn't. It really isn't. Any similarity to a living PCC is entirely coincidental.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The 'Truncheon of Doom' & what price justice?

You may well have heard of the 'Barnet Graph of Doom'

This basically shows that Barnet council is going to run out of money at round about the end of this decade when sources of income dry up (DCLG goes into deep hibernation) and demand for social care & children's services just keep rising.

Birmingham not to be outdone has created the 'Jaws of Doom'

I believe there is also a 'Scissors of Doom' graph which seeks to predict when the NHS will run out of money / healthcare consumes all of public spending / Government introduces the Logan's Run option to reduce demand (I jest of course...) I cannot find it on the net: perhaps it is censored as being even scarier than senior politicians in swimming trunks...

But this got me wondering: do we have (or need) a 'Truncheon of Doom': a graph which shows when predicted resources available for the police & criminal justice services are exceeded by demand for said services? Could such a graph be constructed? How elastic is demand for policing? Or will money always be found for sufficient courts and prisons to lock people up and deliver justice?

Evidence based practice has now migrated across from healthcare into the probation and police services (although there is still a long way to go), a trend I was predicting back at the turn of the century. In a similar way, do we now need more Criminal Justice Economics (like Health Economics)? 

The University of York seems to be ploughing quite a lonely furrow. But is there could be much more... do we need more academic research to look at costs and benefits of various approaches to policing, probation and other parts of the CJS? When does the 'Truncheon of Doom' close in?

But let me make a further link (and I am just exploring this really, prompted by part of Peter Neyroud's input last night)...

Retributional Justice is about right & wrong, about punishment, guilt and fair process. In many ways the victim is as much a subject of the justice process as the offender. The benefits to the victim are not weighed against the cost of the judicial intervention. Thank Heavens, I here you say, justice should have no price because it has intrinsic and supreme value... Do you believe that?

Whereas, on the other hand, one model of Restorative Justice sees crime as a harm to be healed, and therefore the process of justice becomes the method by which that healing occurs. And so if that healing can occur without due (and hugely costly) legal process but instead with some other intervention / RJ based desistance method perhaps: then is that a better outcome for the individuals involved and indeed for society at large? (Because it could be far more cost effective...)

As I say, I don't know. I want to think about this some more. But what do you think? 

Preventing domestic homicide

Prompted by a piece of research (which I now cannot track down - help!**) which showed (I think) that many people carrying out domestic homicides were not on any kind of high risk register, I have just written to the FoI departments of all the UK domestic police services with the following request: 
I am now carrying out a small piece of research into the preventability of domestic homicide. The numbers of women being killed by former or current partners seems to be a constant average of two per week. Based on some scant data, I have formed the hypothesis that many of the men committing these very serious crimes are not known to the police before hand – or on any kind of ‘watch’ list / risk register. And I need your help to find out if there is any basis to my hypothesis. Consequently, I would be most grateful if you could answer the following questions:
1. How many domestic homicides has your force dealt with over the last five years? A total figure is fine, or if you wish, break it down year by year. In this context, I am defining a ‘domestic homicide’ as being when a person is found guilty of killing a partner/former – murder or manslaughter. I am excluding other tragic cases of where parents kill themselves and/or their children etc.
2. How many of these persons (the ones convicted of killing) had any kind of prior criminal record ranging from low level crime to more serious acts of violence, cautions to imprisonment etc?
3. And how many of these people were on any kind of watch list / high risk assessment register / or similar?
Please note that if you cannot answer one of these questions (due to a FoI exclusion etc), please do still answer the other questions that you can. I would greatly appreciate avoiding the email tennis of you writing back to me to say that since Q2 (say) cannot be answered, you cannot answer Q1 & Q3 unless I want to alter my inquiry etc. Many thanks. And please forgive the round robin email: it is just so much quicker for me.
Any feedback on refining these questions would be much appreciated, if you think that would help me investigate the hypothesis more effectively. 
Thank you for all your help.
I will keep you posted on the responses.

Any feedback to me? 

**UPDATE 1321 | 250414: My plea has been answered by Peter Neyroud (thank you!). Here is a link to power point slides (NB they will download on clicking) of research by CC Sara Thornton: Does prior history of domestic violence predict domestic murder or other serious assaults? Very helpful piece of research which deserves to be read and acted upon.

A treat of a day

Today has been a great day: brimming with wonderful people of all ages, some scrunchy new ideas and excellent food. So before I toddle off to the land of nod, I just want to thank a few people...
  • My new & old twitter pals who send me gems of information, inspiration and feedback: as a lone freelance codger, it is great to be connected!
  • The year 13/14 year old students of The Radcliffe School, Milton Keynes whom I met this morning at a Worktree workshop designed to help prepare them for the world of work. Your faces sparkled with enthusiasm, good questions and skillful listening.
  • The staff of Currys in Oxford, and Staples, Hobbycraft & Homebase in Reading: thanks for trying to help me obtain some high temperature ceramic glue and other items.
  • The organising team behind the Annual Supper of the Reading Criminal Justice Association: you put on a well planned and most enjoyable event this evening. Thanks to Roy for inviting me as a guest.
  • The crew at The Kitchen at Reading College who put on such a fine spread: excellent service and delicious food all round!
  • The people on my table I got to chat with: Moira, Janet and Anne with conversation that spanned Chrome TV boxes, dentist hand washing, Freudian narcissism and housing association plumber working conditions!
  • And to my old friend and colleague, Peter Neyroud who squeezed about as many stimulating ideas and policy proposals into his all too short after dinner speech (time was limited) as there are currants in a Christmas pudding. (Watch this space for more blogs on some of the themes that Peter raised tonight.)

I live a privileged life for which I am grateful.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A dramatic drop in violent crime?

I attended the annual Grant Thornton Police Conference, hosted by Paul Grady, yesterday with Bernard Rix. The event for Police & Crime Panels that Bernard and I ran last autumn got a good plug as did the thematic investigation into PCC transparency that CoPaCC carried out with sponsorship from GT. I am most grateful for the invitation to yesterday's event: it was a good day to learn more about the auditing of police constabularies and OPCCs, as well as network with a number of key people (including Tim Passmore, PCC for Suffolk).

During the day, one person highlighted the headline in yesterday's Times: Shock drop in violent crime and noted that the police were not mentioned at all as being a contributory factor. This prompted discussion as to whether the police are always the best at promoting their successes (which was a theme picked up on by Bernard later in the day).

However, the story is far more subtle than that. Two blogs I have spotted this morning: Is the rising cost of alcohol behind falling violent crime? and Behind the headlines: Is it really a ‘shock’ drop in violent crime? both converge and say 1) there has been a long term drop in violent crime and 2) it is all very complex and the causes of this drop are difficult to tease out.

As with most pop sociology and psychology newspaper stories it is always worth going back to the original research (rather than stick with the journalists spin). Here it is. And here is a quote:
Reasons for decreases in violence nationally are not clear, but are likely to be multi-factorial and complex. These could include changes in structural factors such as unemployment, poverty and inequality in addition to public health and criminal justice interventions to prevent violence locally and more widely. In addition, since 2008, affordability of alcohol has decreased, the real price of alcohol in both the on-trade and off-trade has increased and UK alcohol consumption levels have decreased from 10.8 (in 2008) to 10 litres per capita (in 2011).10, 11  These factors may partly explain the falls in serious violence in England and Wales. 
The alcohol factor could be a significant one. Although it is worth noting that the general trend has been towards alcohol becoming increasingly affordable over the period of the long term decline of violence.

But let us repeat: Reasons for decreases in violence nationally are not clear, but are likely to be multi-factorial and complex.

So beware glib conclusions that this is all down to the last four years of the coalition government's policies on crime and policing! It is a good trend but it is bigger than one government in one country!

Update 1337|240414: My good twitter pal & news scooper @SteveBachelder highlighted this article this morning: Yes, lead poisoning could really be a cause of violent crime by George Monbiot. To quote:
At first it seemed preposterous. The hypothesis was so exotic that I laughed. The rise and fall of violent crime during the second half of the 20th century and first years of the 21st were caused, it proposed, not by changes in policing or imprisonment, single parenthood, recession, crack cocaine or the legalisation of abortion, but mainly by … lead...
Update 1509|240414: And for an another view, this article is worth a read as well: Is violence in decline? by Richard Garside:
In general, those who hold forth confidently about the falls in violence are white, middle-aged, middle class males who, for a number of reasons - economic, social, demographic to name three - are far less likely to be victims of violence than they were as teenagers. Unsurprisingly they are inclined to believe official data that reinforces their own experiences.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What is sauce for the Aylesbury duck....?

In recent weeks I have been in an email debate with a fellow councillor as to whether an article on 20mph zones should appear in the next edition of Buckingham Town Matters. (I chair the sub committee which has editorial control of our quarterly newsletter.) The other councillor considered that the issue was not Town Council policy and therefore should not appear in the magazine. My view was that this is subject of great importance (recently raised at the Aylesbury Vale Transport Users Group meeting in the town) and one about which we can and indeed should provoke a debate among the people of Buckingham. The sub committee met yesterday and resolved democratically to keep the article in... so watch this space for it.

Meanwhile, imagine my interest last night as I drove through Aylesbury, the county town of Buckinghamshire, to note that they have a 20mph zone in their town centre. Look, here is the map that was part of the County Council's own consultation a few years back:

I assume this is what became the official zone (although happy to be corrected).

So: should the sauce for the Aylesbury duck be also sauce for the Buckingham swan..?

Please let me know what you think. I am interested in your views... especially if you live in or visit Buckingham on a regular basis. Thanks.

The 'hidden' crime wave

At a meeting in Buckinghamshire County Council last night, I caught the tail end of a discussion on 'Doorstep Crime' and I noted one big fact: 90% of doorstep crime is not reported. I found this shocking and really rather worrying. And I got to thinking: why? And what can be done about increasing the reporting rate so that the criminals involved can be tracked down?

First: what is doorstep crime? Here is a leaflet prepared by Thames Valley Police. At the very least, doorstep crime includes distraction burglars and rogue traders. But what else? It seems to me that doorstep crime should also include:
  • Mis-selling of financial products 
  • Junk post that persuades you to part with cash using a combination of small print and extravagant claims
  • Scam emails & mendacious telephone marketing
  • All manner of home 'improvements' that actually are nothing of the sort!
  • Etc...
And let me make it clear: I have been victims of all of the above (except distraction burglary, fortunately) and I have not reported many of them. Moreover, I do not regard myself as a vulnerable or particularly gullible person (although others might disagree!)

So why do people like me (or not like me), not report such crimes? Here are a few reasons why I think this might be the case:
  • It was such a trivial amount of money, not something to bother the police / trading standards with
  • Even if I do, they will never catch the blighters...
  • And it was my own silly fault to have been conned
  • And I would rather not let the world know about my stupidity
  • And that duster salesman did look rather sad
  • Perhaps I could win the next prize draw: you just never know
  • But that financial adviser said he was independent, and he is such a nice man and has a lovely family...
  • Maybe that external wall covering will look better as it ages..
And so on.... and on.

At risk of being accused of making a daft and potentially inflammatory comparison: is this a bit like domestic violence or child abuse?

Stay with me: I am not saying the consequences in terms of harm bear any comparison in almost all cases (although an older person being conned out of a lifetime's savings is an appalling criminal act with devastating for the person concerned) but the psychology of not reporting the crime may have some correlations. And how we should, as a society react, could also be similar: in other words we need to talk about #everydaycrime more... and without shame. We need to get it out from behind closed doors (as it were). Do we not?

So what #everydaycrime have you been subject to, that you have never bothered to report before?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Victim Support: the volunteer question

I am beginning to see advertisements for "Support Services to Victims of Crime" in various places, inviting organisations to express an interest in tendering for these new contracts that will be let by the Police & Crime Commissioners. Of course, we have known this policy was coming for some while.

There is a handy guide available from the Ministry of Justice (download from here). And many other resources too:
But where do volunteers fit into all of this?

On the national Victim Support website, it says:
Our charity is built on our volunteers. Without them we couldn't continue to do all the positive work for victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales.Volunteers do much of our direct support of victims and witnesses, as well as helping us in so many other ways such as raising money, and promoting our work. We always need new volunteers throughout England and Wales so please get in touch, we’d value your support. We have around 5,600 people volunteering for us. 
The word volunteer is mentioned once in MoJ guidance (referenced above). The Home Office document "have you got what it takes'... does not have one use of the word volunteer. In the "Evidence and Practice Review of support for victims and outcome measurement", volunteers get more of a mention in terms of the need to make sure that volunteers like staff are properly trained and supported. For example:
Table 4.1 Indicators of quality in victim support service provision Governance and management - Defined organisational aims and objectives
- Standardised processes and procedures across the organisation
- Service accountable to Board and/or managers, and individual staff/volunteers accountable to an assigned line manager
- Monitoring of financial performance, including cost effectiveness
Staff/volunteer recruitment, training and support - Staff/volunteers have the qualifications and/or have received the training necessary to fulfil their role
- Staff/volunteers exhibit the necessary personal qualities and attributes to support victims professionally and sensitively
- Clinical supervision for staff/volunteers providing therapy to victims
- Support mechanisms in place for staff/volunteers - Opportunities for learning and development 
So it would seem that volunteers both are and are not central to the provision of effective support for victims. From what little I know of victim support, it relies on its volunteers to provide empathy, capacity and capability to its role.

But for me the big question is this: will volunteers want to work for a profit making company? 

As regular readers know, I work as volunteer for ChildLine which is part of the NSPCC, a notable and large charity. If it was ChildLine Ltd where some of the fruits of my voluntary labour were ending up in the pockets of the hedgefunds (or whatever) who were shareholders... I think I might find another organisation to volunteer for.

Would you?

Will the tender documents from commercial organisations (or perhaps consortia involving such companies), soon to be landing with a thud on the desks of PCCs, include statements about how volunteers will be part of the team...? How can they be sure that volunteers will want to work for them?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Macavity ICT Inc.

Technology is often seen as a panacea solution to all our problems, especially ones relating to obtaining greater value for money provision of public services.

People reading this blog, probably know that ICT has something of a chequered history in the police services: there are stories of large investments leading to negligible improvements in outcomes or (of course) systems that fail to join up not only across from one police service to another but even within a single force. So what has happened to the police ICT company that was being established some months ago (the offspring of PETO/NPIA/HomeOffice etc) which was designed to tackle all these and other problems...?

I note that Damian Green did not mention the new Police ICT company in his speech to the Police Innovation Fund bidders' event earlier this month. The page dedicated to describing the policy to establish an ICT company was last updated in March last year. And if you search on > "Police ICT company" news < most of the results date back 2 or 3 years.

Hansard (via theyworkforyou) is not much more use. The most recent note (12/2/14) that I can find is in a contribution to a debate on "Housing Benefit and Universal Credit in the Social Housing Sector (Regular Payments): Police" where David Ruffley said:
In addition, Ministers have created something that was long overdue and which the Labour party had 13 years to create; a police ICT company that has offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy police technology in a joined-up way, so that we do not have 42 forces doing their own thing and wasting money, with interoperability being limited and the power of bulk purchasing completely ignored.
Which is fine as an assertion but where & when exactly is this "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy police technology in a joined-up way" happening?

And in June last year, Tom Watson asked "the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans she has to make the Police ICT company subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000". The Police Minister, Damian Green replied:
The Police ICT company as it is currently constructed is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Act applies to “public authorities”, which includes “publicly-owned companies” as defined in section 6. The Police ICT company does not fall within the relevant definition because it is not wholly owned either by the Crown, or any other body which is subject to the Act.
I am reminded of Macavity...
Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw—
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime—Macavity's not there!
So what is happening to the Police ICT Company?

Does anyone know?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

37 women... and counting

37 women in the UK have been killed through suspected male violence from January to March 2014. 37 women in 90 days is one woman every 2.4 days.
Thus begins the list of women who have been killed so far in 2014. These details are being compiled by Karen Ingala Smith on her excellent blog which you can find here. Her blog has lists for last year, the year before and many other useful resources.

I am highlighting her work on this for two key reasons today:
  1. This is a national crime matter that cannot and must not be ignored. Whilst the HMIC made the headlines last week with its recent report of its inspections into the response of the police to domestic violence, I remain fearful that, still, not enough resources are being put into reducing this level of violent crime. (My blog on the HMIC report is below, here)
  2. I am wondering how many of these crimes could have been predicted and therefore (possibly) prevented. The HMIC report emphasised the importance of risk assessment. The question I have is whether risk assessment is working and reducing the incidence of harmful outcomes, including fatalities. 
The HMIC overall report says:
HMIC found that while forces are beginning to think about how to improve the management of the risk presented by perpetrators of domestic abuse, there is still significant work to be done to translate their plans into a reality. 
So in response, I ask the following questions:
  • How many of the murderers of the victims on Karen Ingala Smith's blog were known to the police before hand? 
  • How many were known to the probation service?
  • How many (known to either) might have hitherto been assessed to be low risk until they suddenly committed murder? 
  • How will the fragmentation of the probation service into commissioners, low risk (commercial) probation services and high risk National Probation Service (see my blog about this here) have an impact? (Let me take a guess...)
  • Where is all the information about the learning from Domestic Homicide Reviews been collated & applied? (Given that the HMIC report states "Forces and other local partners raised the concern of limited opportunities to share the learning from DHRs")?
Helpfully, the Home Office did publish Domestic Homicide Reviews: Common Themes Identifed as Lessons to be Learned last year. How is this being followed up? 

But... have the outcomes improved? (Are we seeing fewer domestic homicides?)

Friday, April 4, 2014

It's a form of addiction: do I need help?

I don't why I do it. It is probably a form of addiction. I feel less healthy as a result, certainly more tired. It can interfere with my work. If I am being honest, it is a compulsion I have suffered from for quite a long time, probably since my early teens. I suppose I could get treatment for it, but I have never even gone looking for such....

I really must stop getting involved in pointless debates with Tory tweeters (it used to be school chums when I was younger). Especially late at night. I genuinely don't know why I do it. I know deep down, they are not going to be persuaded. They probably know the same. Perhaps we are all trying to 'win on points' as there are rarely any knockout 'facts' that destroy the others' arguments (other than the ones we believe there are). And even a points win is pretty subjective. Actually no, it is totally subjective.

But why do I do this?

Perhaps I am kidding myself that this is giving me crucial insight into the Tory mind that will help me persuade others, whose political beliefs are less solid, of the worthiness of my left wing arguments for a fairer, better future (where everyone has ambitions and dreams, and the resources to achieve those ambitions and dreams).

Certainly last night's debate showed me very clearly (at least I think it did...) that the Tories will be fighting the next election on the basis of the economy. Their arguments will be that over the last five years that they have delivered more jobs, rising wages, better economic management (far better than Labour/Gordon Brown who sold off the gold and plunged the country in huge deficit yada yada) and so if you want to vote for a more prosperous future for all, vote Tory! (And also, you cannot trust Labour to run the NHS, look at the devastation in Wales where Labour runs the health service: people are suffering poor care. lots! And, look: even Labour MP, Ann Clwyd agrees!) The sources cited for all these 'facts' are numerous newspaper articles (by a wholly neutral, objective and independent press/media, of course) and references to dense ONS spreadsheets.

But I knew this anyway. I did not need last night's online debate to remind me that Tories will always argue on the basis of economics. And even now I am carrying on with the debate in my head, wishing, oh so wishing, I could locate some killer objective statistic that would decimate their arguments. Of course, I cannot. Not because they are right, but because it is all a darn sight more complicated than this. The tools of political warfare are headlines, sound bites and over simplifications. The actuality is always far more complicated than that. If I could locate a 'knockout stat' somewhere, no doubt my opponent would find another one to counter. And I would find another and so on. Then, suddenly, it's 3am in the morning.

So, I am making a resolution today. (And I can do this: my 5:2FO diet appears to be working - it is fruit only on 2 days a week and I am lighter than I was six weeks ago.) The next time I edge into such a online debate, I will challenge myself (and the others involved) to find out what we can agree on. And then leave it at that.

I will let you know how I get on.  

With thanks to @eredarP who gave me the link to this. I would acknowledge the author if I knew who it was... Brilliant! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Secret PCC: A LibDem MP considers applying for Direct Entry

I chortled and guffawed this morning when the Chief Constable arrived at my door with news of some early applications for the Direct Entry Superintendent scheme. I thought he was playing a practical joke on me. But it appears he has had some inquiries from a couple of LibDem MPs on our patch. However the timing seems to be out for them as the application process is beginning now. (Unless they want to resign...)

It seems they have to go through a self assessment process first. I struggle to see how they managed to rate themselves so highly... But I guess we can all delude ourselves. Anyway, strictly between you and me, dear secret diary, here is one covering letter that we received...
Dear Chief Constable
I writing to you in the hope that I might submit myself for direct entry into your noble profession as I reckon I will probably be out of job come next May. I have looked through the job description for being a police superintendent, and I believe I have all the qualities, and more, required.
The website says that "policing can be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding". I am resilient sort of chap and trust me, spending hours in House of Commons' bars after listening to opposition spokespeople drone on and on about how poor some people are, and still being able to select and enter the correct lobby takes some doing. Especially when what you are voting for is something at odds with what you really believe in. But that's coalition politics for you. I imagine that sort of saying one thing but doing another is a skill required of top cops?
Of course I do not have any criminal convictions. Being an MP, the expenses oversights I have made around property matters and other sundry bits and pieces do not add up to any criminality at all. I have been required to pay back a few thousand here and there, but no criminal charges were ever considered. And absolutely no speeding tickets, for me or my wife. Ever!
As a proud European Brit, no problems with eligibility there. I have no facial piercings and the only tattoo I have: I agree with Nick in Elvish is inked in well below the bikini line, as it were. I assume that should present no problems to my public image?
My financial position is really rather good (see expenses above) and I really want the job as a police superintendent to carry on working hard for local communities. The pecuniary reward (it is £62,000 a year isn't it?) is not my main motivation. Naturally as an MP I have become adept at deflecting attempts to bribe me into voting this way or that. I imagine these skills will continue to be of use as a senior police officer. I should declare, I suppose, that I do plan on continuing as a modestly paid non executive member of a couple of think tanks and security services contractors. But I will resign these of course, if that is deemed to be a conflict of interest.
I have never been a member of any extreme right wing organisations such as the BNP or Combat 18. But of course I have taken an active part in politics over the last 25 years. But I would be prepared to give all that up, it's only been something of a hobby most of the time anyway. And we LibDemmers are nothing if not flexible, what!
My eyesight and general physical condition is still that of a young & lithe labrador, despite the many lunches that we MPs are forced to consume.
With regards to second half of the self selection questionnaire, I passed with flying colours! I am motivated and committed: you have to be as backbench LibDem MP in a Tory led coalition. My leadership skills are eminently transferable: I have been organising door to door inquiries for years!
I have been an active cog in the wheel of the machine of the complexity that is the coalition government in delivering all that we set out to deliver: a bolder, braver and more affluent country, ready for the second half of the 21st century! Our track record speaks for itself.
The questionnaire asked do I "have the skills, abilities and experience to autonomously lead large departments?" Absolutely! And I can do so without splitting infinitives as well. Being an MP is about working autonomously and as part of team simultaneously. In the LibDems, we are both a party and not a party, a well oiled electoral machine and a bunch of (quite odd in some cases, but not mine) individual spirits.
I live and breathe creativity, innovation and learning. Being a LibDem means being an independent thinker, not tied to corporate or union masters/mistresses. My middle name is ambiguity and so I can easily make high pressure decisions under such conditions. I have lots of commercial ideas to bring to the police table, as it were. If we can sell of Royal Mail for a song, I am pretty darn sure we can sell off a few police stations (and uniforms that no longer fit the less fit).
"Do [I] have the self confidence and personal resilience to overcome any cultural and personal resistance to change?" What do you think? Voting for the NHS reforms, spare room subsidy and reductions in police budgets required bottomless amounts of personal resilience. And if ambiguity was not already my middle name, change would be! And I am used to working shifts/weekends/all hours.
I act with integrity at all times. (Even when I don't have to.) And I am very "comfortable setting high standards of behaviour and challenging the practices of others when these are not met?" Although doing that with coalition partners is sometimes a bit of a stretch. But we LibDems forgive them, for they know not what they do. Well... perhaps one or two of them do.
When you have watched our poll ratings over the last few years as much as I have, I can tell you that I am very used to dealing with distressing situations. I have had my agent crying on my shoulder, long standing members tearing up their membership cards in front of me, students showing me their bank statements. It has been tough and I have learnt to develop a very thick skin. You just have to. So I am well prepared for the odd road traffic collision or the violent death of a colleague at the hands of an offender released into the care of G4SerCapito probaton services. These are all things that I know I will be able to take in my stride, compassionately, sensitively and robustly.
And as for impartiality, but of course. That is the name of the game as a LibDem coalition member. If Labour win only enough seats at the next general election and need us to form a coalition with them: my party will be able to glide with impartial elan into a new government. If ambiguity and change were not already my middle names, then impartiality would be too.
I hope I have made my case for becoming one of your new fast stream direct entry recruits to the police service. I can't wait!
Sincerely yours etc...

Legal disclaimer: just in case you thought this series of secret PCC blogs is based upon a real person or persons: it isn't. It really isn't. Any similarity to a living PCC is entirely coincidental.