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Well, it’s been six months. The new tranche of Police & Crime Commissioners have so far worked their way through £1.5m of salaries, not counting those of their deputies, staff and offices.
For those readers who live in sensible countries, I should explain that last year, our beloved Coalition government abandoned the traditional system of having police forces supervised by elected local councillors – that was an affront to British democracy – and replaced them with 41, erm, elected officials, all highly-paid and mainly clueless, all in the interests of high standards, value-for-money and good governance, of course.
This week, Gabrielquotes asks: has the new system been a success or has everything fallen to PCCs? Let’s see what they’ve been getting up to…
The first ever set of elections for PCCs resulted in the lowest ever peacetime turnout. Several polling stations remained open all day without being visited by a single voter. All in all, 8.4m people voted across the country – so the elections had lower ‘viewing figures’ than the Doctor Who Christmas special. And they were also less well-organised and less realistic and worse value-for-money.
Value for money
Thames Valley PCC Anthony Stansfeld (Conservative) has defended himself against claims of “fiddling expenses” by releasing the following modest statement:
The scandal from which he was trying to extricate himself involved his employing a “support worker and chauffeur” on a £20k salary.
The other big PCC-chauffeur-related scandal has been that of Cumbria’s new policemeister, Richard Rhodes (Conservative – spotted the trend yet?). Questioned by his local Police & Crime Panel about why he only agreed to repay his £700 expense claim for a chauffeur-driven Mercedes after it became public knowledge, he said:
I had been uncomfortable about the cost that had been incurred from the moment I became aware about it. I had been considering repaying the cost, but there had been no imperative to make the decision quickly.
What a brilliant excuse. Definitely going to remember that one.
“Yes, officer; I’ve been deeply uncomfortable about that spree of jewel thefts but until my guilt was made public, there had been no imperative to make the decision quickly.”
Katy Bourne’s new appointment to increase the diversity of her office
Sussex’s Katy Bourne (Conservative) has made a fellow local Tory to be her Deputy PCC, rejecting outright a recommendation from the local Police & Crime Panel – which held the confirmation hearing – that Steve Waight should not be appointed. According to a ‘not for publication’ minute of the meeting acquired by this blog, the Panel was concerned that there was “no information to explain the nature of the [£45,000 p.a.] role,” and that the nominee did not have “the requisite level of personal independence.”
Katy ignored these findings, refused to publish them and went ahead with the appointment. Three cheers for democratic reforms to policing!
Meanwhile, West Yorkshire’s PCC Mark Burns-Williamson openly refused to consider non-Labour Party members for appointment as his £53k Deputy. I’d always thought that restricting public appointments to those within The Party was more of a Soviet tradition than a Yorkshire one, but who knew.
Engaging with the youf
Paris Brown: “tough on tweets, tough on the causes of tweets.”
Kent’s Ann Barnes (independent) showed that she could connect with law-abiding young people by employing a racist, homophobic drug-user as the country’s first and, please God, only Youth Police & Crime Commissioner.
Paris Brooks, 17, was to have been paid a £15k salary, her job description consisting largely of ‘being young’, until it was observed that her Twitter account contained such pro-establishment gems as, “I want to f***ing cut everyone around me.”
Threats of violence made in jest are forgivable, but to split an infinitive and still expect to hold public office?
In a press statement, Ann Barnes said, “I had literally no idea that I was supposed to check people out before employing them. I’ll bear that in mind for next time,” shortly before she appointed Lord Archer as her Best Practice Officer and Dr Crippen as ‘Crimes Within the Medical Sector Tsar’.
Out of 41 PCCs, only eight consider it a priority to “protect the public from serious harm.” That’s the conclusion of a statistical analysis of the 41 new Police and Crime Plans. It also found that only four PCCs will be aiming to “deliver quality policing services,” while a mere two have made it a top priority to “reduce repeat domestic abuse.”
The others, it appears, are indifferent to domestic abuse, quality policing and ‘serious harm’. Especially the serious harm caused by young girls f***ing cutting everyone around them.
Though to be fair, even those who have decided to go with these really obvious priorities – such as the eight PCCs, that’s just one-fifth, who are hoping to “reduce burglaries,” have no clear strategy, and appear just to be spouting insipid rhetoric, carefully tailored to be populist in their individual constituency.
Getting involved in the judicial system
Obviously courts are an important part of the criminal justice system, and Lincolnshire’s PCC Alan Hardwick (independent) hasn’t been neglecting this fact.
After suspending his Chief Constable without telling him why, Hardwick’s actions were ruled “irrational and perverse” by the High Court and the suspension was overturned.
Defending himself, Mr Rationality told the media, “My fear is that in future any PCC who makes any decision which is [...] controversial is going to be looking over his or her shoulder.”
Mmm. I hate it when that happens in a democracy.
So, what a success this has been. Low turnout and lawsuits; cronyism and corruption. The British people (or at least one in seven of us) have handed control of our police forces to dance teachers and bakers, irational perverts and even those who don’t consider ‘preventing serious harm’ to be a priority.
I don’t like to say, “I told you so,” but… well…
Let’s see what happens over the next six months. Surely we’ll get the first resignation by then?