Northampton PCC - Adam Simmonds
Our new Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) have been settling into their roles. Their first tasks are to produce a Policing and Crime Plan and sort out the budget for the next financial year. Chief Constables are looking forward to the plans and reminding the PCC's that they will only be able to achieve as much as allowed by the budget the PCC's provide.
Most PCC's have woken up to the fact that their role is not part time and they have their hands full. They have inherited the staff previously employed by the Police Authorities but for many this is not enough. Obviously, they all need Deputies. The legislation allows PCC's to appoint a deputy (The Police Reform & Social Responsibility Act 2011 provides, under Section 18(1), that a Police & Crime Commissioner may appoint a person to be Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner. The Act also states that the Deputy will be a member of the Commissioner’s staff but, unlike other members of staff, he or she need not be appointed on merit and will not be politically restricted.)
So almost anyone can be appointed Deputy PCC. In most counties this means that the PCC's have appointed one of their mates as Deputy without any form of advertising or selection process. In what other role can you simply appoint someone to a £50K plus job without going through such a process?
Some PCC's have taken their role to new levels. Rather than just take responsibility for the governance of policing services in their area they want to take on the whole justice system and micro manage every area of it. For example, Northamptonshire PCC, Adam Simmonds standing for the Conservatives, is proposing to increase his staff by 17 posts. He started out by appointing four Assistant Commissioners, one of whom was his election agent and the other three Conservative activists. All above board and compliant with discrimination law, I am sure. At the same time, (you couldn't make it up) he also wrote to every member of the police force advising them that there was no money and jobs may be lost. Others are at it too.
The actions of the PCC are monitored by a Police and Crime Panel. In Northamptonshire, Conservative Councillors were elected as Chair and Deputy Chair of the Panel. So much for keeping politics out of the police. The whole thing is a farce.
Meanwhile, in my old force they had a class of recruits lined up to start training in March. They decided to write to all these recruits and inform them that their start date was now put back to April and they would now start on the newly reduced, Winsor, salary of £19,000 per annum. Half of them declined the offer and so the course has been cancelled.