Sunday, 28 July 2013

Weekly Poll Lowdown

First off you may have noticed I have been missing for a few days. If you are unhappy about this there are two people to blame. Firstly, Tony Robinson and Phil Harding as I've been cleaning and sorting my large collection of archaeological finds in the middle of the week. Second is Cllr Steve Tierney as I have been at his Madhouse Minicon for almost 48 hours non-stop playing board games, doing role play and having a party.

 These are the people to blame for my recent absence.

So what could be a better way to get back into #ThingsElliottSays than the weekly poll lowdown. This week I asked you about Police and Crime Commissioners and the debate going on in Parliament about how they are sacking Chief Constables, such a scandal when it is they have powers to do so. But most of you seemingly want them got rid of the PCCs, almost 3/4 of you back this.

Should the Role of Police and Crime Commissioners be restricted?

Yes, they should be abolished.
Yes, there should be tougher rules on sacking Chief Constables.
No, keep things the same.

Total votes: 23

Originally when I put this poll up I thought I would be commenting on the actual powers that should be given to police and crime commissioners. Instead it seems I have to defend the new institution itself. Brace yourself for a detailed explanation. 

Our public services in the UK are simply not serving the public. Let's take the police service for example. If you look at  the legislation (17 Acts of Parliament, countless directives and multiple statutory instruments) coupled with arrest and court figures it is clear to see that since 1997 the police have been focussing on minor traffic offences. This is an area perceived by most voters as a wrong focus especially when you consider the general trend over the last five years has been a shift to property crime, which is altogether more serious. Over time, although crime altogether has been consistently falling, the concentration on crime prevention has focussed on minor and not serious crimes. Not a good show. 

 The police have been concentrating on speeding and not more serious crimes. Good public service?

This can be explained in two ways really. The first is that the police, like other public services, are just laying back and doing what they want. If you get only the police to run the police they only serve themselves. Over time and with the growth in the service and the lack of accountability just lead to ballooning costs, easy work and doing less and less. The fattening of the police service is well shown in the new and highly internally argued plans to make sure the police actually have to have health tests to stop the ballooning size of the officers. 

 Porkie Policemen show how institutional and self serving the police have become.

But also is the idea of faux expertise. The last few decades have shown more of a lean to 'experts' taking over public services. All that is needed for heads of public services is knowledge on a topic achieved by having a degree in something related to the topic or spending a long time being a pen pusher. But this system has lead to many terrible decisions because they lack leadership, control of finances and use ideas that have no logical basis. For example, in another more high profile criminal area, does anyone try to pretend the ex-head of the UK border agency Brodie Clark had any idea of how stop criminals at the borders of the UK? This is all despite Mr Clark's expertise in the border agency and in prisons since 1972. Most Government services and QANGOs are mostly run on a scale from passable to dire, although as always there are exceptions that prove the rule. As with all public services this is the case with the police. 

Brodie Clark is an example of exactly what is wrong with the leadership of  our nations public services.

So how do you make sure the police is doing the right things for the public by not being wasteful, not doing less and less and being more competent. The obvious answer is to get an elected Police and Crime Commissioner who can direct the police. The Police and Crime Commissioner does not decide all the minor details of service so does not need to have a CV in policing as long as a wallpaper strip. What he or she does posses is just the sanity and leadership abilities that is often given in an unsung way by most politicians. But the power over the budget and to sack the Chief Constable means that the PCC has the ability make sure that the public's needs are first and not those of the police otherwise he or she is out.  

 The 15th November was a bad date to have the PCC elections, it should have been in May.

Mind you I think this system could have been better run. For example the Government made a big fuss about PCCs in 2011 and then forgot about them so nobody knew what they did. A booklet to every household should have been delivered, they did it for the awful AV. Putting them in November was also a poor choice as, because nobody knew anything about these elections, people not on the political pulse were confused. Another cock up was using the confusing system of AV which as you know been rejected by over 2/3rds of the public. Both these later problems were caused by those stupid Lib Dems who hate democracy.

 It may have been great to see Lord Prescott lose, but he should have won because AV is anti democratic and an awful voting system.

Most of all however was the choice of candidates. People thought, because they were not informed about the PCCs role, they needed the 'experts' in the police to be elected. At the time there was no debate about Police and Crime Commissioners because no information had come out of the government, they were stupidly silent. Voters were left to their own devices and so ex police independents swept the board because most believed it was a role of micro-management. The result was that there was some institutional police men not doing that much being a mouth piece for the police. This similarly happened in political parties where even members of parties didn't know what the role was about. The government failed to tell people what on Earth was going on. 

 Sir Graham Bright is Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's PCC.

PCCs are nowhere near failed. With more time people will realise they need someone to make the police accountable and elect those people who do, this is as much experience of a new level of democracy than governmental problems. Soon we will be asking how on Earth did we live with a non accountable representative running the police. I hope they try this with some other public services. 

Police and Crime Commissioner Elections are here to stay and here to make our police better.

Vote in the new poll on the sidebar.

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