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, November 27, 2012
Confederation of Police and Crime Commissioners
The existence of CoPaCC raises a number of questions, not least: why do PCCs need an 'alternative'? Sam Chapman on his Top of the Cops blog has added his contribution to answering this question. I feel I should add mine now, to add to the conversations that I know are happening both on and offline about CoPaCC.
Sam makes a persuasive case, as does of course the home site. To the points already made, I would add:
I have worked in and around the Association of Police Authorities (the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners is the successor body) since it began. Indeed, I facilitated their first three annual away days back in the mid nineties, for example. I have a great deal of respect for the work they have done and the staff (past and present) have served police authorities well. Evidently, the 'new' organisation has invested in a number of informative and well written briefing papers for the incoming PCCs. And so my involvement in CoPaCC includes a substantial appreciation of the work done to date by the APA/APCC.
However (there was always going to be a 'however'), it is my view that the body of PCCs now elected will need a very different entity from the past to service their representation, coordination and collaboration needs. This is not just about numbers of people (we have gone from around 700 authority members to just 41 PCCs) it is also about the nature of the governance role. PCCs will operate very differently to the erstwhile police authority chairs at both Chief Constable level and with national bodies and governance structures. Just how and in what way differently will be emergent, of course. The questions are, has the APCC adapted enough so far and does it have the capability to adapt further as PCCs find their feet? How likely is it that it will seek to mould PCCs' requirements around what it is accustomed to doing rather than starting with a blank slate? Is it more or less helpful to PCCs for them to have a ready made association or a body that seeks to start where they are at? Will it serve this new policing and crime governance model well to use existing 'grooves' or chisel out new ones?
I do not know the answers to any of these questions. But I do know that it is valuable to offer PCCs a choice. Many, most or even all PCCs may well choose the APCC as the body to take forward their needs for national representation, good practice sharing, resource pooling, coordination and collaboration (etc.) And some, many, most or even all may elect to ask CoPaCC to carry out this work on their behalf. Either way, it will be a choice, which can only strengthen the body (or bodies because we may end up with two) chosen.
With all this in mind, I responded positively to the request to be involved in making CoPaCC a success. By participating I also wanted to help ensure that the new organisation represented a broad church not only professionally but also politicly in the hope that all the elected PCCs would see the organisation as one that could meet their professional requirements and resonate with their political values, whatever those were.
As a final point here, I would say that I wanted to be part of something new and progressive. Regular readers will know that I remain concerned about the PCC governance model and how it will work out in practice. However, given the opportunity to be involved in helping PCCs make the most of their new role and ensure that communities become and feel safer, I could only answer yes.
What do you think?