I find myself in a period of adjustment as I start working with IMPOWER after seven years working as Chief Executive to the Police Authority and Commissioner in Hertfordshire and a further 25 years across the public sector.
It feels strange not being linked to a big structure like Hertfordshire Constabulary and the Commissioner’s office. The flow of information and the prism through which I looked at the world has fallen away. It has been liberating to be able to think more broadly about the future of policing and to be able to express those views publicly. Previously my advice was limited to the organisation that I served. This is not a complaint because ideas and advice were often taken up and found life in my previous organisations. However, there is something strangely cathartic about being to express opinions more widely. For example, writing an article for Police Professional about how well the transition from Police Authorities to Commissioner’s had gone was a liberating experience. I have even tentatively stepped in the world of twitter (@andrewwhitepol)
However, it is great fun to sit down with a group of bright people and just debate what it is that would most assist Police and Crime Commissioners at this time. There is a lot to be done. Last November the election of Commissioners brought the largest change to policing since the war. Whilst there are many positive signs across the country it is clear that the country is not yet convinced about Commissioners. The only way this will change is through them proving that things will be different.
I’ve read a lot of Police and Crime Plans over the past few weeks and the majority read very well. They are ambitious and public focused but the real test is whether that ambition will be realised. Not every aspiration can be built on a shoestring budget and not everything can be funded by becoming more “efficient”. I would set three key tests for PCCs over the next three years.
- Have services for victims really improved, not just in terms of counselling but responding in a more tailored fashion to assist in recovery?Transforming back and middle office services is long overdue.
- There is no magic solution for this but every force should be able to achieve cost reduction and/or service improvement. Commissioner’s can be in the centre of this work if they choose to do so either through internal change or with the private sector.
- Do something different. Policing is a conservative (with a small C) business. The new governance landscape and reduced resources allows leaders to think the previously unthinkable. I don’t know whether that is police sponsorship, embedding volunteering or diverting resources from front line officers to something that might be more productive.
We live in interesting times and no more so than across policing and the criminal justice system. Watch this and other spaces to see how it all turns out.
Andrew White is a Policing Advisor at IMPOWER. To contact him to discuss this blog please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7017 8030.