It is easy for those of us who live outside of the bubble that is Party Political ideology to assume that the residents of that strange and unfriendly land can make sense of their own world. Sadly that is clearly far from the case. A recent example comes from a Parliamentary Committee who have produced a report called ‘Tone from the Top’ which has identified a lack of clarity in the boundaries between the role of Chief Constable and that of Police and Crime Commissioners. If the case for this lack of clarity was coming primarily from Labour, who claim to oppose PCCs despite having 1/3 of all PCCs within their party, one could understand why, even the Lib Dems whose preferred model at the time that PCCs were introduced by the coalition was a Committee rather than an individual. However this disclosure comes from a PCC who like our own Sussex PCC is a paid up member of the Conservative Party committed to furthering the Tory cause. Indeed on several occasions our own PCC has voluntarily associated herself with the views and ideas of Julia Mulligan who is the PCC for North Yorkshire. Ms Mulligan is chair of the “transparency group” for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners so presumably well connected with her colleagues. As this article explains, she believes that in terms of who is in control of what in the work of policing “You cannot define those issues on a piece of paper” “As PCC and Chief you have to sit down and discuss them and work out where the accountability lies and who has answer about what to the public”
It is deeply disturbing that the Political Party which introduced PCC’s to the UK based on a policy selected for their 2010 manifesto, is still unable to clarify what the role is supposed to be. That someone who was elected to a post 968 days ago is still mystified by what she is supposed to do. The Conservative Party initially called for people from outside of the world of Party Politics to stand in the PCC elections which is why I put myself forward as an Independent candidate, only to be faced with candidates from 4 major political parties including Labour and Lib Dems who all deployed substantial Party resources and grotesquely outspent my campaign, in the case of the winning candidate by a factor of 100:1. As we head towards the elections for PCCs next May, we face the reality that in 2020 there will be a subsequent PCC election, on the same day as the General Election. This means that the first opportunity Labour would have for dispensing of the PCC role will be 2024 even assuming that they are elected then and still dislike this form of Police governance. By then PCCs will have been operating for 12 years. Perhaps by then any Conservative PCCs that are in post will have worked out what they should be doing!