The race for the new police commissioners job here in Kent is starting to hot up. I don’t know who all the candidates are, but Col. Tim Collins, he of the impassioned eve of battle speech seems to be the early, runaway favourite. No doubt the rest of the card will be made up of the barely successful local politicians, or those fading from greater glories.
He’s made a bold statement today, one that will not have gone down at all well with some. His claim?
Eleven people are standing for election for the post, which will replace the county’s police authority this year.
Col Collins said he did not see there was full-time work in the role.
Seems a little cocky, but Collins is not a man afraid to put his neck on the line.
The 51-year-old, whose availability for the role is limited by existing work commitments, said: “It would be a part-time role for me. I don’t see there’s full time work in it.
The Police Federation don’t agree.
The Kent Police Federation said it was “nonsense” to say the role, currently filled by 16 police authority members, could be carried out part-time.
Yes, sixteen members.
In the US, they’ve had this model of elected police chiefs since, well, forever as far as I can make out. It seems to work for them. But for the public servant the idea that one person can do the work of 16 is unthinkable, hell most of them would probably have you believe that 16 people can’t do the work of 16 people. (Bear in mind that the expenses run to £212 per person, per day, plus transport and up to £30k per year in ‘annual allowances’ dependent on position held, this looking at the list of members is ‘part-time’ work. By my very, very rough back of a fag packet calculations interspersed with some assumptions of 10 days a month work, we’re looking at around a cool half million a year minimum for the current system.)
A canny operator, Collins. The Colonel takes care not to piss off his Majors and Captains:
“the reality is that we’ve got a very effective chief constable who has got a great team around him. They can do the policing.”
Absolutely, there’s nothing worse than a politician walking around with the police, on the beat, wearing a stab vest, going back and telling everyone that they know what’s going on because they’ve been there. It’s rubbish.
This is why I support the concept of elected police chiefs, if they can direct the uniformed management, hold them accountable, whilst being accountable themselves, then surely it must be an improvement on what is effectively an anonymous group of local worthies with no real accountability.
The elected police chief can set his/her stall out and say, a vote for me is an indication that you want policy A, B and C. If s/he delivers, then all well and good, if s/he doesn’t then s/he’s out. They also need the power to remove uniformed managers who disobey, obstruct or obfuscate the policies of the elected chief.
A part-time role? Well, who knows, only time will tell. In a Conservative county, I’d be amazed if Collins, the old war hero and Conservative candidate didn’t get the nod from the electorate, but if he sets a dangerous precedent and one man can do the work of 16, then others may pick up on this. It could be a dangerous time to be a senior civil servant.