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, May 9, 2016

Was that (almost) a general election?

All of the police and crime commissioner elections have been counted, including the mega one for the capital city. The only exceptions being Northern Ireland and Greater Manchester (for different but special reasons).

In other words, while everyone has been poring over the local government elections, looking for indications as to how the results transfer onto the national scene, almost everyone appears to have forgotten the PCC elections that happened across the England and Wales. We have a great deal of useful data here that gives an indication of how national parties are fairing in the eyes of the electorate now and in comparison to four years ago.

Over the course of a few furrowed hours, I have pulled together this spreadsheet of data provided by Policing Insight which seeks to analyse the Conservative/Labour dimension of the PCC elections. I am not an expert psephologist and it is also quite possible that there are one or two glitches in the data (please email me if you spot one: thanks). I have only used first preference figures, as these most closely mirror voting in a general election. And of course, it should go without saying that PCC elections are odd beasts, although given the results of last week, I think they are becoming less odd...

But here are some conclusions I can draw:

In 2012, the Labour share of all the PCC (including London Mayor) votes was 33.92%. The Conservative share was 33.14%. Note the Conservative share was only slightly less that the Labour one. Perhaps in hindsight this was a portent to the general election result in 2015?

What about now? The Conservative share is down to 30.59%, a drop of over 2.5%. The Labour share on the other hand is up to 36.64%, a gain of over 2.5%. The gap between the two is now running at over 6%.

Interesting huh?

It is also worth noting that in the 41 PCC elections contested, 25 Labour and 25 Conservative candidates increased their share of the vote between 2012 and 2016.

There are now 20 Conservative PCCs, 2 Plaid Cymru, 3 Independent and 17 Labour (including Greater Manchester). Interestingly the number of votes cast last week overall for Labour and Conservative were 1,148,716 and 909,715 respectively. So nearly a quarter of a million more votes for Labour but four fewer PCCs.

Much more will be written about the PCC elections I am sure: including why only three independent PCCs survived and only in the South West. And how will the new make-up of the collective body of PCCs change matters in the future.

I watch this space.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Clearly a contemporary campaign

Anthony Stansfeld is evidently pulling out all the stops in his campaign to be re-elected as PCC for Thames Valley. He has relaunched his campaign website which is filled with stock national news items from Conservative Party HQ.

The other local news items are... maybe a tad out of date?

I will be keeping my eyes on his website to see new news emerges as his campaign steams into action

Meanwhile, who am I to talk? My personal campaign against his re-election is a tad old news as well:

... or is that old news?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

So Mr Stansfeld, we meet again...

So it is now evident that the incumbent Police & Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley is really standing for re-election. I could not quite believe it to be true until a local conservative councillor tweeted this earlier on today:
Helping to deliver some #PCC2016 @Conservatives election literature. @BuckinghamBlue @MKConservatives #5May

Early in his time as PCC, Mr Stansfeld indicated that he was unlikely to stand again, although he did not rule it out. So it is interesting that he has chosen to do so... I wonder why.

Especially when he has such headlines as these still hanging around: 
£85,000 crime tsar used sham office to hike expenses 6,000% (and he's the first Police Commissioner to hire a chauffeur as well)
Is this water under the bridge or will this come back to haunt him. Readers might be interested to read his statement that he read out to the Police & Crime Panel following the publication of this story:
Note his words carefully, especially these:
The Thames Valley is huge, it is the largest non metropolitan police force in the country. To drive across it and back is nearly 150 miles. Much of my time is spent in a car travelling from one end to the other. I was driving over 500 miles some weeks. To do this, attending meetings, often chairing them, giving speeches, making presentations, finding my way, looking for car parking in towns I was not familiar with became downright dangerous. I was overtired and wasting a huge amount of my time driving that could be better used.
I am well into my state pension, if I was 30 years younger this pace might be possible. If I have a medical issue, drop dead or injure myself, the bill to replace me will be into the millions. Having a support officer who can drive is a wise investment and insurance policy.
Are these the words of a man, from three years ago, that you would have confidence in for the next four years? 

Maybe it's time to dust off my chauffeur's cap...?

PS Thames Valley is the largest non met police force by budget and police numbers - it is not the biggest geographically by a long chalk. the PCCs for Dyfed-Powys and Devon & Cornwall have many more miles to cover.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The party conversation that confirms it (Secret PCC)

Picture the scene: Saturday evening drinks at my wife's cousin's place. Slim glass of pop in hand, cheese & chutney sandwich in the other (again)...

Me: Harry, my old sport, how the dashed are you?

Harry: Fine old chum. What you up to these days?

Me: I'm still running the police.

Harry: Still running from the police?! You're not that Basil chap are you? Got all those jewels stuffed inside your teapot?

Me: No. I am still running the police. You know, you helped me deliver some leaflets a few years ago. I'm the Police & Crime Commissioner.

Harry: The what?

Me: Single-handedly I am responsible for administering the governance of the Police Service here in North Ford West Shire.

Harry: Sounds very grand. Do you get expenses with that? And have you got one of those detachable blue lights to stick to the top of your car when you need to get home a bit quicker...? You say I helped you deliver leaflets... hmm... I thought that was for a council position. All lost in a bit of blur, I am afraid. So you won then?!

Me: Yes.

Harry: So is that it? Are you this police thingamajig for good now? You know like that chap Scargill: President of the Police for life?

Me: No. There are elections in May. I am trying to decide whether to stand again...

Harry: You want more leaflets delivered?

Me: I don't think so. I am probably not going to stand again...

Harry: Why not. Are the expenses no good? Didn't you have a chauffeur?

Me: Gordon is my coach who happens to drive me places. He's a wonder. But no, that's not the reason..

Harry: Well what is the reason then?

Me: I am not sure I can take the starlight of celebrity much longer, the being mobbed in the streets by people desperately wanting to talk to me about policing strategy, the flash photography outside the Home Office, the paparazzi at my home...

Harry: Gosh!

Me: I am being sarcastic Harry. I don't think most people even know I exist...

Harry: I know you exist, old bean. Don't talk like that. I am sure what you do makes a real difference. Now I must go and get myself one of those cheese and chutney sandwiches: they look rather tasty if a little bit tricky to handle...


The Secret PCC Diary until now:

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, January 15, 2016

The Secret PCC: should I stand again?

Well, well, well.

It has been a long three and bit years. In a way, it has gone by as quickly as a South African innings. And here we are, in the run up to the May elections which frankly I thought I would not have to think about. But against predictions, the Tories won a majority and now I am stuck with having to make a decision on whether to stand again. So I thought I would do a balance sheet, working through all the pros and cons to help me decide...

On the plus side:

The power.

The power!

The unaccountable powerrrr! (I like to delude myself sometimes) I think I may have some smidgeon of influence over the colour of the cells in the new custody suite that I commissioned. I say I commissioned... but the plans were pretty already drawn up by the time I arrived.

But on the down side:

I have seen enough sandwich lunches to last me and my waistline a lifetime. I have become quite an expert in holding cheese and chunky chutney sandwiches and a glass of orange juice, without spilling the chutney down my suit. It's a rare skill but one I have now perfected. But do I want any more sandwiches... ever?

The bounciness of senior coppers has to be seen to be believed. Honestly, it is so bloomin' tiring. They are like chipmunks on speed. Always some new strategy for this. Partnership plan for that. Yet another power point presentation on some whizzo idea they picked up on their trip to the police department in Oklahoma. I could well have had enough...

Partnership meetings. Oh good grief. What can you say about them except that I might like to spend some of my retirement watching paint dry. It would be more entertaining. And interesting. I used to have partnership zeal: they were the future! But now I only have partnership weal: proto pressure sores from sitting too long in these tedious meetings, massaging the egos of different heads of this or that.

And then there's the Police and Crime Panel. I think I am going to do a PhD in nit nit picky picky pettiness: I now indeed, do have plenty of material. Try as I might to keep them focused on me (yes me!) they still insisted on trying to hold the Chief Constable to account. Even though I told them until I was blue in the face that was my job... they still wanted to scrutinise the decisions on the new siren sounds and colour of the cells in the new custody suite...

Hmm. I think I have made my decision... I will miss the team of course: my chief executive, my aromatherapist, my astrological adviser, my part time press adviser and Gordon, my trusted coach and chauffeur. What could I have done without him...!

So, now I have start making my plans for my last 100 days... what will I need to do?


The Secret PCC Diary until now:

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.