Posts Tagged 'elections'

Mr Jones…

Meet Bob Jones, the newly elected Police & Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands.

A very brief post this, I just wanted to take a moment to welcome Bob Jones to his new role as Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) for the West Midlands following his winning of yesterday’s PCC election.

You may have noticed that this is the first time I’ve mentioned the PCC elections in a few weeks, not because I’d forgotten they were taking place but rather due to a word that I’d never heard of previously called ‘purdah’.

What ‘purdah‘ means, if like me you didn’t know, is that there is a period leading up to an election during which certain people have to avoid doing anything that could unduly influence the course of the election. For us officers, it meant we couldn’t really mention it at all.

Anyhoo, with purdah now concluded with the announcement of the results, allow me to tell you a little about our new PCC.

Mr. Jones is a Labour party councillor from the Wolverhampton area. He was a long standing member of the former Police Authority and was recently awarded a CBE for ‘services to policing’.

His key election pledges were to:

  • Protect neighbourhood policing from further government cuts
  • Retain Police and Community Support Officers
  • Oppose the privatisation of core policing services
  • Fight for a fair funding deal for the West Midlands Police Service
  • Set up local policing boards in each area to ensure local people set localĀ  priorities
  • Put victims first by ensuring that funding for Victim Support is safeguarded
  • Steer young people away from crime and gang culture by encouraging the police to work with schools, local councils and voluntary organizations

Mr Jones will take office on the 22nd of this month and will have responsibility for setting the Force’s budget, defining objectives and holding the Chief Constable to account.

As you’ll have no doubt read and be expecting at least some reference to in anything published about the PCC elections, voters were perhaps a little shy with the turnout in the West Midlands being 12% but so it goes – not really sure what to say about that one.

For more information on the PCC elections, take a look at my blog on the subject from a few months ago.

You can find out more about the elections in general by checking out the BBC News website and if you’d like to know a little more about Mr Jones, have a look at his website.

There’s also a dedicated website for the West Midlands PCC post which you can browse here.

P.S. Struggled with an appropriate song for this blog as there are few, if any, tracks that reference the PCC elections in any meaningful way. As it is I went for the Counting Crows song, one I don’t much like to be honest but needs must…

Power to the people, right on…

It’s less than 200 days until the first Police & Crime Commissioner elections but did you also know it’s under 100 days until the start of the Olympics? (Image from London 2012)

It’s less than one hundred days to go until the start of the 2012 Olympic Games. You’d know that, were it not for the fact that the celebration of this milestone was so completely overshadowed by the news that it’s less than two hundred days until you have the chance to vote in a Police & Crime Commissioner.

Yes, elections are really that close. Can you believe it?

Okay, I jest – there’s a good chance that many people didn’t know that elections for the new position are to be held on November 15th.

It may seem a long way off but trust me, with all the excitement of England winning the Euros and Team GB hoarding gold medals in London, the big day will be here sooner than you realise.

I’ve already written about the plans to replace Police Authorities with single elected representatives and at the end of the article had promised to post updates as and when we know more about the vote.

Well, with the two hundred day milestone being celebrated with street parties up and down the country now seems like a good time to do so.

First of all, if you missed November’s post on PCCs and don’t fancy reading it now (even if it does feature Batman), the basic idea is that Police & Crime Commissioners will have responsibility for overseeing their local police forces. They’ll be able to set priorities for the police and hold the Chief Constable to account.

This job is currently done by a panel of bods drawn from a variety of sources who are known as the Police Authority.

At the moment PCC candidates are jostling amongst each other for their party’s nomination, a process which I assume involves speed eating competitions, bleep tests and possibly musket duels.

In the Labour camp for the West Midlands there’s Mike Olley and Bob Jones. For the Conservatives, Joe Tildseley seems to have the nod and for the Liberal Democrats, Ayoub Khan has expressed an interest in running.

Of course these are early days and as a week is a long time in politics, over the twenty eight something weeks leading up to the elections the selection of candidates could well change completely.

There’ll be further information published ahead of the elections themselves – most important on how and where you can vote – and there are a number of websites on which you can find more information on PCCs.

The Top Of The Cops blog has a news feed dedicated to stories on PCC elections and has individual pages for each of the police forces involved – you can find the West Midlands’ section here.

Our own Police Authority has dedicated a section of its website answering some key questions about PCCs and the Home Office has a site too providing further updates.

As the election campaigns begin to pick up speed, it’s going to be interesting to see what issues candidates decide to concentrate on to attract interest. Keeping bobbies on the beat, reducing response times and cutting paperwork all seems to be popular topics from looking at their pledges.

Just as important too will be how they seek to make good on these pledges and I’m sure as we near the elections discussion will grow around many of the topics being raised.

As I ended the last post on PCCs, I’ll end again by saying that as soon as we know more about the elections, the candidates and the issues I’ll try and pull the information together in the form of another sassy blog. Until then stay tuned…

Say the right things, when electioneering…

Elected Police and Crime Commissioners will have the power to fire Batman if he's under-performing. Whether they'd be brave enough to do so is another question...

Last month the Queen wandered down The Mall to the Houses of Parliament. Once there she showed the guard her pass, they let her in and she went in to the Bill signing room. She adjusted her glasses, took a Biro from her handbag and wrote her name at the bottom of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, thereby bringing it into law.

Amongst the provisions of the Act is the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners who will from next year begin to replace the existing Police Authorities in all forces outside London.

As things stand at the moment, there are three separate influences on the control of a police force. These are the Home Secretary, the Police Authority and the force’s head honcho, its Chief Constable.

The Home Secretary has overall responsibility for policing, law and order on a national scale. He or she works closely with other related ministers in Westminster such as the Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice and the Justice Secretary.

The Chief Constable has overall control of a police force and is in charge of its strategy and operations. The Chief has the power to decide force policy and tailor his force’s organisation as he or she sees fit.

Thrown into the mix alongside the Home Secretary and the Chief are Police Authorities. Each force has its own and they are usually composed of around seventeen members, nine of whom are elected having been drawn from local authorities and the remaining eight are independent being drawn from the community. The Police Authority exists to scrutinise its police force, ensuring that value for money is being obtained and respect is being paid to the budget which it sets.

The Police Authority also plays an important role in setting local performance targets in the form of a Policing Plan. The targets are agreed, published, and then closely monitored with questions being raised if the force appears to be falling short.

With the introduction of the Act, Police Authorities will be replaced by single Police and Crime Commissioners who will be elected persons charged with all of the above responsibilities and also having the capability to dismiss a Chief Constable if circumstances dictate it necessary.

Anyone will be able to stand for the role so long as they are British, Commonwealth or EU citizens over the age of 18 and living in the force area. Terms will be four years long.

One of the arguments made for Commissioners is that they will help make police forces more accountable and in touch with the priorities and concerns of the public. By giving the public an opportunity to directly influence the priorities of their force, it is hoped that the force will come to better represent the people that they police.

Another argument is that Commissioners would be in a better position to properly scrutinise a police force that Police Authorities are. It has been said that Police Authorities lack the ability to stand up to Chief Constables or the Home Office when it comes to influencing change.

Detractors have questioned whether a single Commissioners really would be able to do a better job than a panel of seventeen members. Questions have been raised about the systems in place to hold Commissioners to account and also about how much the new system will cost.

Further to these concerns, there have also been doubts from some over the wisdom of potentially politicising policing. Would Commissioners make decisions based on the interest of their region or on their ambitions for re-election and would they be at risk from corruption?

Either way, the Commissioners will begin to take up their posts from next year and your local force will be providing information about how you can get involved in their election and so begin to participate directly in how your police force is supervised.

It’s going to be an interesting change and something that will require your input to work correctly. As such I’ll be posting updates on this blog as and when we know more about the elections, who’s likely to be standing and how you can get involved.

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