written by The Police Debating
on the 20th
June 2012 at 6:24 - Posted in
Yesterday an event as held in central London, in a plush venue
where even the seats had charging sockets; at least that is,
according to one attendee.
It is not in the least unusual for events to take place; nor for
speakers to include ministers, corporations or think-tankers.
Neither is it unusual for media representatives to attend such well
What was unusual, was that the event was a first real outing for
Police and Crime Commissioners; the trumpeted saviours of
accountability in policing.
The particularly unusual thing was the fact that the truth began to
out, and due to Social Media; it began to out in real time.
The establishment of 'PCCs' is now law, so can only be stopped by
an Act of Parliament and, previously, Chief Officers at their
recent annual conference were quoted as saying "it was time to
SUMO". To borrow from my other blog; this did not mean wrestle with
the issue but, rather:
Shut Up, Move On.
As a Police Officer I can say, without fear of a peer correcting
me, that if I walked away from something or blindly accepted it; I
wouldn't be doing my duty properly. At the time Chiefs roared SUMO;
PCCs lacked definition.
Yesterday definition is what we got. That recent SUMO roar can only
be described, in light of this refinement, as having been
premature, verbal ejaculation.
Firstly, at a time of growing public concern over politics and
influence, PCCs result in the creation of another layer of
political roles; salaries and pensions. This time directly in
charge of how your are kept safe in your bed.
Imagine if you disagree with the policies but are in the 'perceived
problematic minority': how does the potential implication of that
I doubt it very much.
Secondly, at a time of unprecedented austerity, when normal people
like us are already struggling; when the police service is facing a
reduction in budget of 1/5th already, despite spelling out how
dangerous this is: it has been seen appropriate to introduce a
spend of Â£75 million on this process.
Thirdly, several more worrying facts began to emerge; amongst a
backdrop of laughter at the public, that this system is lauded to
be in the best interests of. A normal member of the public, a good
Christian, was there and walked out because of the offence this
The first real worry came from the revelation that it is seen as
unlikely that independent candidates would succeed; so the
positions would primarily land in the hands of the main political
parties; this was neither surprising nor unexpected. The surprise
came in the fact that parties would be able to control PCCs or
remove their support if they didn't like the way things were
This by default has the effect of creating a miniature, Home Office
type influence, over local policing; even if the party in question
is out of central power.
And what if the neighbouring forces are different parties and the
party mandate is confrontational or antagonistic?
Does mutual assistance grind to a halt, become a battle ground?
Crime and Justice Minister, Nick Herbert let his mask slip here,
saying "I promised not to be partisan, but..."
Thus proving it is impossible to keep politics out of politics.
The issue of low public turnout was raised as a concern; because a
low turnout would mean the person charged with keeping you safe, in
your bed had no real mandate to do so. It was vaguely stated that
the minimum turnout "should be like local elections".
I've said it before and will again now; policing is for everyone,
equally and without exception. When only a third of the public
speak for all, it is unavoidable that people will suffer. In
Westminster this seems to neither understood, nor cared about.
I noticed the issue of electoral fraud was not raised; when clearly
it should have been.
The implications of this are huge and you have to ask; why create a
local power retention mechanism unless you are convinced you won't
have it centrally for long? Food for thought indeed.
Then, the discussion over the Home Secretary's much repeated
'chiefs will be operationally independent'. It seems they will not;
the common theme was that PCCs would get straight into tinkering
with as much as possible; on the delivery side. Again, my three
year old could have seen that coming.
Arising from this comes the true horror.
The corporate sponsor of the event, consultancy Deloitte, along
with others, made clear that the primary focus of PCCs would be
No, not public safety. Money.
I hasten to add, that for experts in efficiency and finance; I'm
massively surprised they didn't say: "are you sure spending
Â£75 million on this is a good idea in the current
Now, why would said consultancy sponsor an event; with access to
people eager to tinker and reform? What could they possibly
These days I look at Leveson as the tip of the influence
Back to the event; in waded G4S and others; clamouring to know
'what could not be privatised'. All the while they rubbed their
hands at what could.
Herbert's masked slipped completely after this and we got a real
glimpse of what's coming.
Where a force refuses to 'partner' with a private provider (let's
call it privatisation shall we) the implication was that the force
would have less officers. Now, I'm sure he meant to say "because
they will have to do x, y and z too".
Unfortunately what came out was:
"if you vote John Prescott (who has ruled out privatisation if
elected) you will get less officers". It almost sounded like some
form of threat to the budget precept.
I don't accept threats, veiled or not.
He, Nick Herbert, also blathered about PCCs being "game
I believe this tells us everything we need to know about the Crime
and Justice Minister.
A) he thinks policing is a game; not life, death and public
B) that the real agenda here is to exert political agenda, to
secure political longevity and control.
The latter will be openly used as leverage to push privatisation
(still not a rose, even by any other name) into policing; even if
the party pushing it comes to lose power nationally.
This is the cold, stark, horrifying truth.
I know what PCCs are for; what they have been all along. A back up
mechanism, a back door way to secure the private future for those
with vested interests.
I know that this has been years in the making; that a lot of
'corporate support' has been given and, how this has been done.
Just take one look at the #AntiWinsorReport.
Because I know this, I cannot and will not 'Shut Up and Move
Because I'm a police officer and because I have a duty to protect
the public, even from politicians if needs be.
I am quite prepared to wrestle.