Elected Police and Crime Commissioners

Big changes are afoot for how West Mercia Police is going to be run.  We’ve outlined what’s happening and quick overview of the candidates in our own inimitable style!

What is happening?
On November 15th 2012, you will be given the opportunity to vote for your preferred candidate to effectively run and be accountable for the West Mercia Police.

This change sees the end of the current system where a board made up of mainly councillors . Representing Telford until the changes are Cllr Clive Elliot and Cllr Keith Austin.

What will the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner do?

The successful candidate will be expected to set the budgets, including how much is raised locally as part of Council Tax, and decide on policing priorities. They also have the power to decide who the Chief Constable will be. They will not be making decisions on who to arrest or have any influence on the day to day operations.  In return, they’ll take around £75k in salary.

Who can stand as a Police and Crime Commissioner?

Well, you’ll five grand in readies, 100 signatures and slick election campaign. No police experience required, in fact, no experience at all required and if you work for the police you are disqualified from standing. You’ve got to be over 18 and live in the area, and not have a conviction for anything imprisonable. Interestingly, Lord John Prescott is standing for this position in Hull, so its a good job that guy he thumped in Rhyl didn’t press charges!

There are a load more here if you still fancy the job, but it’s a bit late for this round. Bear in mind, that if you don’t manage 5% of the vote, your five big ones are history!

Who are the candidates for West Mercia Police?

We have three candidates standing for election on 15th November:

Adrian Blackshaw (Conservative)
Adrian Blackshaw is a former Army Officer, now an organic walnut farmer  and councillor from Hereford. His profile from his website ( http://www.adrianblackshaw.org.uk/ ) says: “Adrian Blackshaw has broad commercial experience from working in a range of businesses. He has a track record over many years of forging effective partnerships in the corporate, private and public sectors. He currently farms in Canon Pyon in Herefordshire.”.

Cllr Blackshaw is also on kinda on twitter http://www.twitter.com/@blackshaw4pcc


Bill Longmore (Independant)
Bill Longmore is a local councillor in Hanwood near Shrewsbury. Ex-Police Officer for 30 years, Ex-Business Owner and now at 74 has still not ordered his pipe and slippers just yet. His manifesto is online here and from the cover pic, it looks like he wants to beat the muggers with a golden baseball bat. Check out his very interesting background here: http://www.bill4pcc.co.uk

Also kinda on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@bill4pcc


Dr Simon Murphy (Labour)
Dr Simon Murphy is a former Labour MEP (he quit in 2002) and lives in Worcester. His website (http://www.simonmurphy4pcc.com) is so crammed full of photos from his campaign trail, I think he has spent his £168k on mileage alone! I have to question his claim to keep politics out of policing. This is directly from his website: “I believe that David Cameron is out of touch and thinks you can cut crime by cutting police numbers. He promised change for the better – yet his attack on Police numbers will only make life better for criminals. Mr Cameron’s 20% police funding cuts will make a minimum of 15000 officers redundant – 6000 of those from neighbourhood policing with 240 set to be cut from our local police. Labour is the only alternative to a Conservative Commissioner.”

His LinkedIn profile suggests he already has 5 jobs, ranging from recruitment consultant to chair of finance trust.

Very much on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@murphyslaw4ppc

What are the concerns of having an elected PCC?
Some commentators say that elections are a popularity contest and those with populist ‘coppers on every street corner’ manifestos saying what voters expect to hear are likely to perform better than those with a realistic ‘trying to get a tough job done in tight budget’. Even worse, those with the backing of a political party and big spending campaigns are also likely to fair better.

Why are political parties involved at all?
Great question. I don’t know. Each elected PCC has to swear an oath of impartiality on taking office, so you have to ask what is the benefit for the party that the candidate belongs to? The benefit for the candidate is clear – experienced campaign managers who can reach out to party members to get ‘one of our guys’ elected and help with the £5k deposit & 100 signatures. Oh, did I mention that the cap (otherwise known as how much it’s likely to cost) on campaign spending in West Mercia is a whopping £168,000?
Have a look Make your own mind up. I’d be interested to hear from you in the comments section below. I’d also be interested to hear from the candidates themselves.

UPDATE: The Candidates came to Telford on 2nd November and Keith Osmund-Smith live-tweeted the event.  Read more…

8 thoughts on “Elected Police and Crime Commissioners

  • October 17, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I’m always a bit wary when I hear objections to various posts being ‘political’ – after all, one person’s political interference is another one’s democratic accountability. (For instance, I think Local Education Authorities should be running schools, not whoever scraped up enough money and sponsors to open a school wherever they like, teaching lord knows what and completely negating the idea of national standards.)

    Party politics are, though, irrelevant for a post like this – I agree they shouldn’t come into it, so I don’t know either why the candidates are Labour, Tory etc.

    To be honest, I don’t see the point of this elected post at all. I just don’t see how people can choose between one stranger and another, especially when they are pulling down £75k a year and need have no relevant experience whatsoever. Why on earth would an organic walnut farmer be telling the police what to do?

    I don’t know what the views of each one are about policing, I don’t know how I would ever tell them my opinions and not a clue whether it would do me any good if I could.

    I think the police should catch criminals, collect evidence for possible prosecution, keep order but not throw their weight around excessively and generally do what they are employed to do.

    I doubt whether many people will vote – how would we, except on party political lines, which are irrelevant in this case?

    Stuff and nonsense!

  • October 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    While putting this together, I noted that should he be elected, Dr Simon Murphy is going to appoint a Deputy to ensure that politics is kept out of policing. Presumably, this is so he can still get on with the other not inconsiderable demands on time.

    I’d hope that voters put some weight on an understanding of the demands put on the police, and on the other hand, the fact they don’t have an unlimited pot of money.

  • October 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    OK, so now I’ve read or at least skimmed the manifestos. I can’t see any reason to pick one over another and one says that the post comes without a job description. I still think it’s pointless and akin to appointing a headteacher who has only ever worked in a shop.

    Still, I suppose that applies to most ministers in government, but at least they can claim to be carrying out whatever their party promised in its manifesto (or not).

    Anyone else got any enthusiasm for this carry-on?

  • October 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    I don’t get the need to be honest, and the US experience of elected Police officials doesn’t fill me with confidence – how on earth can they keep politics out of it? I don’t want justice losing out in the heat of a campaign!

  • October 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    I’ve read the 3 manifesto’s, such as they are, and came away feeling that only one has any police experience at all and the same one does seem to show some passion for the police and the role. But overall, I’m still none the wiser about why we are now voting for PCCs or what, if any, benefits there are or will be about such posts.

  • October 17, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Should be a status quo option not to have a commissioner

  • October 23, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Didn’t know the system was quite so complicated. According to the Star

    “Police forces are presently responsible to police authorities, complex organisations that have a number of sub-committees and panels. For instance, the West Mercia Police Authority has an executive board, which in turn has an editorial working group.

    Beyond that, there are also a number of key panels, representing such issues as resources, strategic policing, equality and human rights, complaints and professional standards and partnerships.

    Further down, there are divisional policing boards, which are responsible for local engagement, community safety initiatives, partnerships and childrens trusts, local policing performance and local authority scrutiny.

    There are also a number of committees, tasked to take care of urgent decisions, appointments and remuneration, standards, audit and professional standards.”

    On the other hand, is one man going to look after all that? Seriously?

    Babies & bathwater, anyone?

  • October 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    A Tory councillor in Hereford, a former Labour MEP who I don’t think even lives in the West Mercia area who was responsible for dragging Telford into the expensive and useless city region (which we then left after footing the same share of the bill as Birmingham for setting it up) or an independent ex-copper from Shropshire. If I wasn’t abstaining from voting partly in protest at the fact these elections are being held at all but mainly out of a complete lack of interest then I’d go for the independent. This job should have been politically barred like senior civil service jobs because now we’re going to end up with every police force being run by a political party and the commissioners are going to be spending all their time politicking when they’re scapegoated for cuts in police funding. My guess is that in the next year or two central funding for police will be cut to virtually nothing and the cost passed on to local authorities to raise via council tax and complainers will be directed to the commissioners.


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