Monthly Archives: June 2012
And now for some juvenile light relief. It may be a little puerile but it kind of appealed to my sense of humour. After all, if you can’t laugh, sometimes all that’s left to do is cry…
A female friend of mine posted on Facebook… “The government today announced that it is changing its symbol for Parliament to a CONDOM, because it more accurately reflects the government’s policy and political stance.”
Apparently the ‘marketing’ ethos behind this is; “A condom allows for inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of dicks, and gives you a sense of security while you’re actually being screwed!”
Childish? Possibly… Inaccurate? Not really but it should make you think!
Much has been written about locally elected Police & Crime Commissioners however; there doesn’t appear to be much evidence of public engagement in the proposal or process for their election in November this year…
But as with the Government’s recent Chief HMIC proposal, currently causing great angst across much of the police service, a fact which I posted on earlier in the week (see here), it’s fairly pointless expecting any changes to yet another Government enforced done deal…
But, for most of us with concerns about the PCC proposal, the main worry is that of increased politics in policing. I say ‘increase’ because small ‘p’ politics, or at least pandering to politics, has been present in policing for some time now however; with the introduction of PCC’s in November it appears that small ‘p’ is likely to become a very large one!
The Government, in particular the Conservatives amongst that malais have told us; the purpose of PCC’s is to increase the democratic accountability of police forces.
I (and many others) remain sceptical. I belive that if we want to improve policing, not political careers and/or popularity in politics, what we need is a greater level of public engagement. The proposed ‘aim’ is unlikely to be achieved by the politically contrived public control invested in PCC’s. In many respects this is simply another political PR stunt, a smokescreen designed to mitigate against the increasing public service delivery failings.
Earlier this year, Mark Easton at the BBC asked; Can politics and policing work together? A similar question was raised more recently at The Thin Blue Line Blog which asked; How can you increase the democratic influence upon chief constables without undermining their independence? The crux of the of the Thin Blue Line post (see here) suggests that; increased politics in policing, whilst wrong, is almost inevitable. In conclusion the post raises the following points and in conclusion raises the following points…
- An already fragmented service will face the future difficulty of one force adhering to the political preferences of the elected commissioner, whereas its neighboring force may be playing by completely different principles.
- Regardless of the alleged honorable intentions of the Home Office with its printed objectives for the project, the temptation to influence decision-making along political agendas will become irresistible.
- Locally Elected Crime Commissioners are appointed to follow the Home Secretary’s focus on the reduction of crime which carries with it the implicit increase in detection’s.
But crime statistics have been manipulated disgracefully for many years by successive Chief Officers and their management teams. Whether for political, career or financial gain, the fact remains that the public have been conned into believing that crime is reducing and detection’s are increasing at a greater rate than is actually experienced.
Indeed, it has even been suggested that dramatic crime reduction was the main reason for policing not being ring-fenced in the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. Since then we have witnessed significant and continued cuts to the essential front-line services of policing.
Perhaps if the books of crime hadn’t being so corruptly “cooked” over so many years, things would be different. Being more factual and honest with actual crime figures, along with the low primary detection rates that sit behind those fiddled figures, would have forced any Government into protecting the public by not decimating the service.
The main driver for any politics in policing are crime statistics and detection rates. Whilst ‘sanctioned detection’ and ‘HO guidelines’ dictate how police actually record and react to crime and other offences, irrespective of legal definition and impact upon the public, politics will always drive policing.
I hardly think that the power of local democracy, via PCC elections, is actually strong enough to drive forward significant and required change in that process. As to Chief Officers becoming more ‘honest’ and/or accountable, that’s also unlikely.
Since news broke about Tom Winsor‘s selection for the post of HMIC, the sounds of incredulous disdain have been deafening amongst policing forums. Members of the policing community are (rightly) sceptical and angry about the ‘political’ process which elevated Winsor to being the preferred candidate for HMIC, according to an independent survey (see here).
But if the Winsor gig is actually a done deal, and day by day it’s looking more likely that is the case, how sensible is it to continue to ignore that fact? What would be the ultimate gain for policing if all those who represent the service simply adopted their best ostrich posture?
In my view it’s always better to engage in a process of constructive dialogue and debate, rather than ignore the situation. The major problem with this particular situation are; (1) too few people so far, other than from within policing, actually understand (or care about) all the implications and impacts upon our society and (2) until there is more widespread public concern about the issues, politicians driving these changes can and will ignore concerns. They can (wrongly) write them of as insular and based upon self-interest amongst the police community.
But the issue of policing and consequent impacts upon service delivery to our communities is far to great an issue to ignore. The ethic and value of ‘engagement’ was also espoused today, despite some fairly disparaging comments from some within policing, by Julie Nesbitt, Chair of the Police Federation Constable’s Central Committee.
Comment: We Must Work With Tom Winsor - …we, the constables of the Police Federation can either continue to fight the impossible battle to urge Theresa May to think again or we can, and must, use this opportunity to say yes… (Police Oracle)
The main consideration here, apart from service delivery and quality of service must be; are we happy for politicians to carry on using policing as a political football? The answer for everyone’s benefit, not just police officers, has to be a resounding No! And now a timely reminder about the thing that once made British policing the best in the world from the Chair of the North Yorkshire Police Federation…
Before those rushing headlong into police reform reach another brick wall and have to show they don’t have a tin ear to concerns about privatisation & politicisation of policing along with 20% cuts, Winsor, Hutton and the professional body please take time to reflect on the fact that before ACPO became a plc and made money from policing we were at one time apolitical, impartial & independent…(Mark Botham)
As Mark also pointed out… Please, if you haven’t already done so, lobby your MP and encourage your friends & family to do the same!
Constructive and continuous debate is never wasted, even when those with opposing views appear not to be listening. Talk loud enough, talk long enough but above all continue to talk and never underestimate the power of persuasion!
- Police anger as Winsor, the lawyer who has never been a police officer, is tipped to become watchdog (telegraph.co.uk)
- Tom Winsor for Chief Inspector of Constabularies – Yay! (minimumcover.wordpress.com)
- Tom Winsors HMIC application (inspjulietbravo.wordpress.com)
- MPs likely to try to block Tom Winsor’s appointment as police watchdog (telegraph.co.uk)
- Independence (thecustodyrecord.wordpress.com)
- Alone in the canteen – Winsor/HMIC SHOCK! (inspectorgadget.wordpress.com)