Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Public reporting of PCC investigations

BFTF has been following reports from the "TopOfTheCops" blog, written by former Policeman Sam Chapman, with interest.

The blog looks at the Police and Crime Commissioner legislation and the performance of the new PCC's. It appears to be a pretty even handed site, and looks at issues from a number of angles.

It's kinda what BFTF would like to see politicians doing, instead of the partisan "we are right, they are wrong" that is seen from them.

Anyway, the reason for mentioning TopOfTheCops is that a recent post said some complimentary things about the way the PCC legislation means that the results of any investigations into the conduct of a PCC are put on public record. As TOTC points out:

"Thanks to one of the better parts of the PCC reform, where the IPCC accept a case involving allegations against a PCC, including all that could be criminal, the final report of the investigator becomes a public document. We do not only see the decision of the IPCC, but also some account of the investigation and why the investigator came to the conclusions they did.

What openness! There is a facility for redaction of certain matters, and for delay in publication while criminal proceedings take place, but we actually get to see the report without it having had to go to the Home Affairs Select Committee first.

Imagine for a moment what it would be like if that were the case for all criminal investigations, and not just PCCs and their Deputies. You and I, the people who pay for the investigations, and in whose name they are taken forward, could look at the results and even do a bit of “armchair auditing” to see whether there are any problems with them. Extraordinary that this happens, or perhaps more extraordinary that it doesn't!"

and later:

"There's a good chance the IPCC and possibly anyone they investigate will have spotted that the report will be made public. This changes the dynamic. There is now less of a reason for PCCs under suspicion to say “it would not be appropriate for me to comment”, as there's a good chance their most relevant comments to the investigators will become public knowledge anyway. Maybe some will see the benefits of being open and transparent right from the start, rather than have a report emerge just as the dust was settling that then prolongs any political difficulties they experience as a result of an investigation."

1970s Ford Granada.

BFTF believes strongly in giving organisations praise when they do things rights, as well as challenging them when they get things wrong - but has been finding it difficult to find anything complimentary to say to the current government (see note 1).

There was a moment when it seemed that a compliment was due to the government introducing plain cigarette packaging, a move the would help public health and was being lobbied against by tobacco companies... but it turned out to be a false alarm.

So it is great to find something that can be passed on to the local conservative party in Nottingham with the words "well done on this".

There are, no doubt, many other things the current administration has done that are a postitive step forward, but BFTF is wary of asking what they are as the response is likely to be :

a) Full of misinformation
b) Disputed on every point by the opposition

It is simply too much work to go through each claim trying to find out where the wool is being pulled over ones eyes.

So. What to do?

Firstly, sent off this email to the local Conservative Party

"I note from the TopOfTheCops blog that the PCC legislation mandates that any inveatigations into PCC conduct result in a public report at the end of the investigation. This is a GOOD THING and should be extended to other areas where public money is used to investigate wrongdoing and not fully reported to the public afterwards."

Secondly, thought it might be a good idea to issue a challenge to the local Labour and Conservative parties to draw up a list, on which they both agreed, of five things the government has done well and five things the government should have done better. Will be interesting to see what happens.......

Note 1: If any Labour acolytes out there think I have, even for a moment, forgotten what happened under the last PFI mandating and illegal war waging labour government, they are very much mistaken.

Image SourcesWikipedia

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