Taking the Politics out of Policing

Fresh out of the Ideas Farm in Wellington, I dropped into Wetherspoons for a coffee. I sat by the fire and I was soon approached by a party of three, one of whom I kind of recognised. As he put some paperwork down on the table I noticed immediately that the man was Adrian Blackshaw, the Conservative candidate for West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner.

I checked that’s who he was as he sat down with his colleagues and we had a chat about the process and his ideas and feelings about the post, the campaign and him.  As this was unexpected, I wasn’t taking notes, or had done any more research than already I had done in this page here. Please feel free to correct anything by leaving a comment or emailing telfordlive@gmail.com.

My opening gambit, a little predictable perhaps, was about the importance of social media in the campaign,  I admit to having been impressed by Dr Simon Murphys embrace of the method to get his message out far and wide, and less so with the @blackshaw4pcc account and that of @bill4pcc.

‘I decided early not to do that, there are people tweeting for me, but with over 160 meeting in 2 weeks, and 200 emails a day, then you can’t do everything’ said Adrian. ‘That said, within day to day policing social media can be a very effective tool to interact with people and get messages out very quickly’.  Adrian went on to explain how well twitter is used by Young Farmers to report suspicious vehicles to each other, and we discussed how effective the local police are by using twitter to report a lack of burglaries  which they do in Telford quite regularly.  This helps to dissipate the fear of crime, which is high up on Adrians Agenda.

We moved on to discuss the political angle. Dr Simon Murphy campaigns on the slogan ‘Keeping Politics out of Policing’ and yet has been pretty much a career politician and a staunch Labour one at that.  I’ve been critical of this, and asked Adrian how political the post will become.  ‘There is no place for politics in the role for any candidate. In fact, once the election is over, it is written into the Act of Parliament that created the posts, that any political influence is forbidden.  In effect, this means that every candidate will be taking the politics out of policing.  Half my campaign team are independent and half are Conservative.  Once the election is over, if I am successful, I’m my own man and will fight for the West Mercia force.’

Adrian was delighted to have been endorsed by three ex-police authority chiefs, completely independently, indeed Adrian was unaware that the candidates were being scrutinised by the trio. ‘It was a real boost to have been chosen as having the right skillset for the job out of all three candidates for the West Merica Police and Crime Commissioner.  Having been involved in floating companies on the stock exchange, and twenty years ago being an investment banker in the States, financial control is a very important part of the role.’. Adrian also discussed his time as an officer in the Army, working with police in Northern Ireland and knowing his way around the public sector, having been involved with public/private partnerships and economic regeneration.’

This chance meeting gave me a bit more of an insight into Adrian Blackshaw, the man behind the blank twitter account and he changed my mind.  It’s a problem with elections that people vote for people who run the best campaigns, not always the best candidate for the job.  By not embracing social media, I really think Adrian’s team have missed out.  I’m going to vote for Adrian, I think he’s the best man for the job, but you are going to have to make up your own mind.



5 thoughts on “Taking the Politics out of Policing

  • November 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Interesting. I wonder if a personal chat with any of the other candidates would change your mind?

  • November 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I wonder. I knew the candidates were in town, but after the Ideas farm I’d arrange to meet a couple of people in ‘spoons for a drink and he literally came and sat opposite me by the fire! I was going to vote for Bill being independent, but Adrian convinced me. Happy to talk to any of the candidates, or accept articles from anyone else who has had personal chats with the other candidates.

    I have been impressed with Dr Simon Murphys campaign and leg work. He has probably the highest profile campaign, and that may well swing it for him. I just feel his campaign slogan is at odds given his highly political background.

  • November 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I use Twitter to keep in touch with my mates so I don’t care who else is busy tweeting.

    The Labour guy hasn’t delivered a leaflet where I live but we’ve had one from the Tory – seems like he’s working harder at getting to everyone? Know its only one reason, but I’ll probably vote for Adrian Blackshaw because he bothered.

  • November 12, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    If Adrian is fiercely independent minded and will always do what’s right for West Merica then why has he become the Conservative candidate, same goes for the labour guy.

    I simply do not believe that these people, once voted in, will not take their lead from the party and it’s for that reason I think so many people aren’t interested in this election.

    Instead of having a committee of people aligned to a party, we’ll have one commissioner who’s aligned to a party. The whole thing is a farce from start to finish and I look forward to reading the turnout figures.

  • November 13, 2012 at 6:45 am

    You can’t be a party candidate – especially not for a party that whips its elected representatives to within an inch of their lives – and take the politics out of the job. The PCC role is meant to be non-political and there’s an oath they have to take to say they won’t be political yet they allowed political parties to stand official candidates rather than making it a politically barred job. I disagree fundamentally with elected police commissioners and disagree very strongly with the idea of political party candidates for the job and am 100% convinced that the role will do nothing to improve accountability. For those reasons I had intended not to vote but the thought of Simon Murphy in a position of power again worries me, he’s a dangerous man and I could no more vote for a Tory as I could Labour or the Lib Dems so I’m torn between contributing to the abysmal turnout that will hopefully lead to the idea of elected PCCs being scrapped or voting for the independent because that’s the only way to actually keep politics out of policing (at least, for this role).


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