The stark contrast between the number of applicants for the role of Chief Constable in Lincolnshire, two applied and neither were not shortlisted, and those for nearby Nottinghamshire where six have been shortlisted clearly reflects the difference between the two organisations. The large rural area of lincolnshire where a great deal of the none policing work has been transferred to G4s and urban Nottinghamshire which is run along more conventional lines mean the two forces are very different in nature. However this is not the only reason why the differences are so stark. The Police and Crime Commissioner plays a key role in the relationship with the Chief Constable and the way in which the previous PCC handled his relationship with the previous Chief Constable in Lincolnshire will have had a deeply damaging impact on the morale of the force. Alan Hardwick suspended the previous Chief Constable who was in any case acting Chief Constable shortly after taking up his role as PCC and although this decision was quickly reversed by the Courts, Mr Hardwick continued to act in a manner that was destructive to the relationship with the Chief Officer. Not only would one or two of the potential candidates from within the force have been put off applying for such a high risk post, but whoever is successful will inherit a force with potentially low morale and one where the poor leadership will have prevented the internal reforms that many other forces have been engaged in since 2012 from taking place. The new PCC came into post in May and has set about advertising abroad as well as in the UK for this post, which may also have sent unhelpful signals to potential UK officers as he made a great deal of his decision to do so. With only five months into his 4 year role, Marc Jones the new PCC is still a relatively unknown quantity and so any Officer in a position to put their name forward would have to think very seriously about doing so. Within British Policing the numbers of qualified officers eligible for a Chief Constable role at any one time is finite, something anyone within the world of policing would understand and so by advertising abroad, the PCC is sending out a message that he is uncertain that any within the current pool is suited to his requirements. One other PCC has previously advertised abroad, but Marc Jones did make this decision very public, almost playing to a certain gallery. All of this turmoil shows up how much risk exists in the current model of PCC. There is no backstop or plan B if the PCC goes off track as Alan Hardwick did, the Policing and Crime Panel are set up to scrutinise the detail of some of the work of the PCC, but they don’t have the authority to do much more than this. They are also not able to act as a form of continuity when there is a change in that top post, and in this case with a senior office and PCC both having moved on, the lack of certainty in the force will be immense. By contrast the fact that the Nottinghamshire PCC has been in post since 2012 must have assisted in ensuring that officers would know what they were likely to get from this PCC.
The responsibility for the way in which PCCs currently operate rests entirely on the shoulders of Theresa May. Although a great deal of the ground work was provided by Nick Herbert, Mrs May as his boss made changes to some of his plans and he was replaced as Policing Minister two months before the first PCC elections. It is clear from the current situation in Lincolnshire that the model, whilst not broken, does need modifying significantly. As Prime Minister is May’s responsibility to task Amber Rudd to come with a plan. The question is will she have the guts to do so? It is much easier to overturn someone elses plans than your own previous work!