Sunday, October 21, 2012

Shaz is Back

By popular demand, 'Shaz' is back (see photo) but I actually wanted to write a short comment on the Police & Crime Commissioner elections coming-up on 15th November.

From the news today, Sunday papers and TV, it's pretty clear that most of the population haven't the foggiest idea what the elections are all about and it's quite likely that the new commissioner, when elected, may stimulate the lowest political turn-out in modern history and may not actually hold a democratic mandate for the role, if people don't vote.

If you are still vague about the Commissioner's powers, I am too, then here's a useful link.

What people really want is not the politicisation of policing warned-of by Sir Ian Blair but real control of local policing priorities beyond the power to hire and fire Chief Constables.

David Cameron is expected to make a 'Tough on Crime' speech this week but if we are brutally honest, it's very difficult to be sent to prison for anything less than murder or tax evasion these days. From local experience, £30,000 worth of Benefit Fraud can deliver a suspended sentence and a £5.00 a week fine and I have real concerns over some of our young tearaways who are moving through the revolving door of the criminal justice system, with crimes steadily becoming more serious after each suspended sentence. I know that the police often feel the same way.

Here in Thanet, it's very obvious what people want from their policing and the courts and I have written about it before. Leaving aside the curses of domestic violence, vandalism and anti-social behaviour which blight some areas, people want a restriction on the large number of registered sex-offenders housed on the island and the same applies to serious juvenile offenders in care (a local cottage industry). Add to this the probation service sending their newly-released clients to cheap rented accommodation in well-known and deprived wards around the island, with no hope of finding employment.

None of this lies within the remit of the Police or the new Police & Crime Commissioner who exists to replace the local Police Authority make the Police more democratically accountable and performance-oriented and place 'Key Decisions' in the hands of the public. Except that the public clearly don't know what these key decisions are and what powers the new Commissioner actually has to implement them.

However, I do hope that readers will exercise their democratic right to vote for a candidate in the hope, at least, that the improvements promised by Government, will arrive as a consequence.

Finally, another word about Facebook and discretion. I trust our Council Leader had an enjoyable holiday in Taipei, China appearing quite popular as a destination of choice for our local politicians. At a time when local people are taking-out record pay-day loans, one should, I believe, really be a little more circumspect or even conservative, with holiday snaps on Facebook. I was passed one of these today but I've decided not to put it online as it might offend and today's photo of 'Shaza' the pet store dog, is a lot more amusing, I'm sure!


Anonymous said...

China may well be a popular destination for local politicians but isn't Taipei on the island of Taiwan which is currently very different from the Peoples Republic of China?
Sent from the middle of the Pacific Ocean on the ship Golden Princess.

Don W said...

Not sure I see your point about our Council Leader's holiday. Are you suggesting that it is inappropriately funded? Otherwise shouldn't we take some satisfaction in knowing that our council leader has been sufficiently successful in life that he can afford such a holiday and may therefore be seen as someone who is fit to take the decisions of leadership? Indeed I seem to recall the absence of much life experience outside a couple of years in local politics being put forward as a less than suitable qualification for the position of mayor. Or is the point simply about Facebook privacy settings? I've personally come to consider Facebook an ideal way of sharing holiday pictures with friends and acquaintances. As I don't count the council leader amongst my friends I would have remained oblivious to his holiday had you not pointed it out.

Simon Moores said...

Which is exactly why I placed a Wikipedia link so that readers could see the difference between China (geographically generic) and Taipei as I knew that someone would mention it. Also, if I ever go to China myself, I would rather not be pulled-up for suggesting one is not the other as I have already had to deal directly with the People's Security Bureau in Beijing and their representative in London on the very same subject in a professional context.

In regard to the Leader's holiday, I'm not not suggesting it was inappropriately funded but I am suggesting that people in public life should be cautious about the photos they display on their personal pages as the newspapers are littered with those who appear to think a revealing private holiday photo is just that on Facebook.

Simon Moores said...

I'm afraid the 'Gravy train' as you put it, is a way of life for politicians of all parties and levels of democracy from Parliament down to District.

Ironically and factually speaking, the worst offenders come from the Labour party and I've written about this before. The reason - and you will have to look up the supporting stats - is that Conservatives are normally in the professional sphere, i.e. lots of lawyers in Parliament and can be relatively self-supporting on the modest allowance that politicians receive.

If you go further down the political food chain then this income gap widens between the parties but also explains why so many district and county councillors of all parties 'hang-on' to their seats way beyond the retirement age

Anonymous said...

"If you go further down the political food chain then this income gap widens between the parties but also explains why so many district and county councillors of all parties 'hang-on' to their seats way beyond the retirement age"

And Roger Gale.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the man say 'of all parties' Anon 9:10, or do you really wish to embark on a childish exchange of the names of politicians still holding seats beyond retirement age.

My own view is that the elder citizen can often have much to give, but sell by dates vary considerably. Some, of course, offered little or nothing even in their 20s. Let us not judge who by party.

Right Thinking Tory said...


Having read up on the police elections I reckon we could have under 15% of the electorate turn out which would be, pardon the pun, criminal.

But I've just read on the socialists' website that the Tory Government have cut police budgets by 20% meaning we've lost 1,500 police staff here in Kent alone.

Surely this isn't true?! If it is it's almost wanting me to vote for anyone else but your lot.

Here's hoping for some re-assurance...

Anonymous said...

Ian Blair should study history. The creation of police forces drin 1829 was politicizing policing. The people would not call them "Police constables" because by state appointment (without parish election) they could not be constables. They were referred to as "Gendarmerie" a comment on the fact we had defeated Napoleon only to adopt his bad habits.

An early attempt to "Police" a political gathering in the 1830s saw police attempt to kettle Englishmen. The result included one plod dead and a 17 man Coroner jury returning a justifiable homicide verdict.

The fact is policing was imposed on the people a century before they got the vote to select MPs. State education was imposed on the people 80 years before they got the vote.

Yet the people remain expected to co-operate with this state police system by defaulting on their right to select constables by elections.

Sir Robert Mark warned us 40 years ago that we no longer select the most able but the most malleable to be our police officers to make of them what we will.

Since 1829 there has been no such thing as policing by consent in the UK.

We will trawl through the Hillsborough history and tut at the malleability and moral inferiroity of state appointed police and be fobbed off about "Lessons being learned".

We might do the same about Orgreave. Even facing up to the fact that the policing of the miners strike under a Ltd company called ACPO was unlawful and a case of officers of the Crown breaching their oaths to the Queen as they offended against the peace of the realm.

And we will lurch on.

In the future we may have to separate the Office of constable from police and the constables with Crown authority will be a powerful version of todays IPCC so that once again the Crown is the source of authority over police.

Anonymous said...

I shall not be voting for the PCC post...waste of time and money..we were better off with the old police authority