Friday, 20 July 2012

The Emperor Needs New Clothes

Sir Humphrey Appleby: "Minister, Commissioner, I have something to say to you which you may not like to hear."
Commissioner Mackinlay: "Why should today be any different?"
Sir Humphrey Appleby:: "Minister, Commissioner, the traditional allocation of executive responsibilities has always been so determined as to liberate the incumbent from the administrative minutiae by devolving the managerial functions to those whose experience and qualifications have better formed them for the performance of such humble offices, thereby releasing their political overlords for the more onerous duties and profound deliberations which are the inevitable concomitant of their exalted position."
Commissioner Mackinlay: "I wonder what made you think I didn't want to hear that?"

Might well you laugh...

This morning, Police & Crime Commissioner Candidates (of all Parties, as well as declared Independents) received an email from the "Association of Police & Crime Commissioners" inviting them to submit a CV and photograph for their election website.

The letter also asks PCC candidates to declare their... Special Interests (please note this information will not be published, but will be used to help us provide targeted briefing information and updates):

The Association operates from a swish office in 10 Dean Farrar Street SW1, they have a website, twitter page and numerous staff and a CEO. Tucked away on the bottom of their letterhead is the following little bit of "newspeak" "The APCC will represent all Police and Crime Commissioners and all policing governance bodies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland." 

Although the accompanying letter does state,

"Decisions about any longer term ‘national body’ for PCCs will be entirely at the discretion of elected PCCs"

I cannot help but wonder how can you have an "Association" for people who have not yet even been selected, let alone ELECTED. 

  • Who actually finances this body?
  • Who appoints the directors and staff? 
  • Who commissions the research and on what basis is it done?

The signatory on the letter is Mark Castle (Chief Executive)

  • Who appointed him?
  • To whom does he report?
  • Who sets his priorities and assesses his performance? 
Let's dig a little deeper.

Up to very recently there was an organisation called the Association of Police Authorities who were based at (can you guess?) 10 Dean Farrar Street SW1. And their Chief Executive was......Mark Castle.

The Association of Police Authorities (a typical third sector organisation which draws on taxpayers' money without any responsibility or accountability) spent thousands of pounds of money which wasn't theirs to campaign against the policy of the elected government with regard to Police & Crime Commissioners.

Then.....WHOOOOSH ! About turn chaps. The very same organisation, in the same building, with the same staff and the same CEO suddenly "re-invents" itself overnight and morphs into "The Association of Police & Crime Commissioners" - the so-called servants of the very people they had been briefing and campaigning against just a few days earlier.

I have thought long and hard about how I feel about this.  I could call it disingenuous. Perhaps duplicitous. Maybe even unprincipled.  But actually, the best phrase is shameful hypocrisy.  The clearest possible example of what has gone wrong with the running of our country - the establishment and empowerment of the "third sector" and their amazing  ability to change direction whilst simultaneously keeping their snouts in the trough.

I have no doubt that the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners will need a national body to provide research and support (though no such organisations were needed 20+ years ago, when the quality of our governance was probably better than it is now).  

I just hope that the newly elected Commissioners take full advantage of the Association's kind and generous acknowledgement that "Decisions about any longer term ‘national body’ for PCCs will be entirely at the discretion of elected PCCs" and ensure they select a loyal new emperor and not allow the old one to simply buy new clothes.

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