PT: Are Police and Crime Commissioners a good idea?
SPCC: Well of course they are. I was elected wasn’t I? The local police service is now benefitting from my expertise, my insights, my straight talking common sense rather than all this Bramshill nonsense and civil servant baloney. I bring democratic accountability. I have already spoken to at least 60 people across my area and listened to them a little bit. I promised I would really listen to them in a couple of years from now when I am up for re-election.
PT: The appointment of deputies has come in for a certain amount of criticism...
SPCC: I cannot understand why: the legislation was very clear on all this (unlike other parts of the law which you can drive whole squads of police horses through). As a PCC I am empowered to appoint who I like to the position of deputy. Some PCCs have gone through a charade of pretending the appointments were open and made on merit. I did not bother with that, of course. It did mean I had to let go my first appointment as he went a bit ‘native’ as it were and began talking like a senior police officer. Couldn’t be having that! And the deputy I have now is absolutely brilliant although I have not seen her for a couple of weeks… In fact, I wonder what she is up to… Now where is her mobile number….?
PT: How do you explain the gaps in the legislation?
SPCC: In a word ‘panic’! The government were on the ropes, not quite sure how to grab the headlines on policing & crime and so they rushed it through. Bit silly really but completely understandable, this Government does have a bit of previous on such matters of course. I am not unhappy as it gives me far more leg room to do the things that I think need doing.
PT: How would you describe your relationship with the Chief Constable
SPCC: Well I am about to appoint a new one. The last permanent chap left in a huff after the election and retired to Magaluf’s balmy climate. I survived for a while with a temporary one. But in the end his obsequiousness and policy flatulence became just too much to bear. So I am in the process as it were, as I wrote about before. So once I have appointed the new one (and the person spec has been met), I am sure our relationship will be totally spiffing!
PT: So there's been no friction at all?
SPCC: As I say, the original Chief left. Had he stayed, I reckon there would have been a few crackles of thunder and lightning over some of my plans… But you see it would never have come to much: I am too reasonable a person, the protocol sets out who does what very clearly and if it didn’t work, I would have sacked him. No friction at all really.
PT: Did he consult you on his recent articles published in the Guardian?
SPCC: What articles? I don’t read the Guardian. I prefer to stick with Private Eye and the Telegraph.
PT: How was the handover from the Police Authority?
SPCC: Well. What can I say? I think they were majestic in their attempt to make it as difficult as possible for me. Yes they flannelled on about not knowing who would win (although it was obvious from the start it would be me) but frankly, a bunch of five year olds could have done better. It wasn’t helped by the tonnes and tomes of guidance being issued by the Home Office: as if anyone would wade through all those! But I muddled through of course. Occasionally I have to bump into some of them at the Police & Crime Panel meetings. You can tell they are all still twisted by bitterness about being made redundant. Such is life. They should have moved on by now, as my old psychotherapist used to say.
PT: Has the policing plan been easy to deliver?
SPCC: Hang on, we have not delivered it yet. But was it easy to write? Yes, I got my deputy to do it. I gave her a few ideas to weave in here and there, and she had my manifesto to refer to…. Piece of cake really. I have got a copy here somewhere… now where is it. I had mine bound too… Ah well, it’ll turn up. Hope the dog hasn’t chewed it!
PT: The public reaction to the elections wasn't exactly enthusiastic. What's community engagement been like since November?
SPCC: As I said, I have met lots of people (at least 60). Everyone seems to admire my chain of office. They seem impressed to be meeting me although they do think I can do something about the quality of policing. Which I can’t, of course. That is the Chief Constable’s job (so I blame him). I just map out the broad strategic themes, the essence if you like. The public still don’t quite get what us PCCs are all about. But give it time. Before too long, they will forget all about us and stop bothering to try and understand.
PT: How important is it that police and crime commissioners have representation at a national level?
SPCC: Very important. We need to make sure we shape the future legislation around policing, crime and the criminal justice system. We are the voice of the people.
PT: Do you think more people will vote next time?
SPCC: Of course! Mainly because the election will be held in May.