From helicopters to Desert Island Discs!

With the Easter weekend today’s update stretches from last week until today and covering a diverse range of subjects from helicopters to radio interviews and Neighbourhood Watch debates.

On Monday, March 25th, I was at the Home Office in London for the first board meeting of the National Police Air Service (NPAS) of which I am now a director.

The Home Secretary has decreed (very sensibly) that the way police air resources are currently deployed is unnecessarily expensive and inefficient and that it would be better to have a national service.

Ron BallThere were some problems associated with the Warwickshire helicopter (provided jointly with Leicestershire and Northamptonshire) concerning compensation for a prepaid maintenance contract. Those problems were largely resolved and so we will be signing up to NPAS in October. I will be visiting Derbyshire on the 12th April to get a much more detailed view of the work carried out. Fixed winged aircraft are very much cheaper to buy, own and operate but I need to understand if replacing some helicopters would be appropriate.

On Tuesday I was a guest on the Bob Brolly show on Radio Coventry and Warwickshire’s equivalent of Desert Island Discs talking about my background and my view of policing in Warwickshire. My three chosen records were “Please Please Me” by the Beatles, “An English Sunset” by the Moody Blues (John Lodge from the group was a few years ahead of me at my Grammar School), and “Butterflies” by Toni Damley.

I was in Leek Wootton on Thursday meeting the Police Chaplains accepting an invitation to accompany one of them “doing their day job” as and when it can be arranged.

In the afternoon I met with Lee Bowers and Charlie Sayers of Unison to discuss the Employers Charter which they are asking me to sign up to. This is the sort of area that I’m aiming to ensure that we do in agreement with our alliance partners-West Mercia and so it will be discussed at our next meeting.

My Easter break was hugely frustrating. I had a heavy cold and so didn’t manage to get out on my cycle with my cycling partner at all. I managed a visit to Bristol in arctic conditions which did my cold no good at all!!

I’m a great fan of direct speaking, so I wasn’t disappointed by my visit to the Bedworth and Bulkington Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinators meeting on Tuesday.

I’d far prefer an open exchange of views to a tame meeting where serious issues don’t get addressed. I’ve just had a very complimentary e-mail back from their secretary Lynne Price, saying that they appreciated the open and honest exchange we had that evening. I’m just trying to work out if I can charge my counselling bill to the budget.

Discussing road safety with Paul Kerr

Discussing road safety with Paul Kerr

Paul Kerr decided after his son was tragically killed at the age of 17 to channel his grief into trying to ensure that he would do what he could to ensure that other people didn’t have to go through what he’s been through. He has devised a Student Road Safety Award scheme and is trying to get schools and colleges to sign up to the scheme. I’m a strong supporter of what he is trying to achieve and am happy to endorse his scheme.

Tom Winsor

Tom Winsor

Yesterday we were visited by the first non-policeman to have been appointed to the role of Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) – Tom Winsor. It was an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting on a “get to know you” basis, but also for an exchange of views on a number of policing matters – not least on how we see his role and how we will work together. In a previous role he produced proposals on police pay and conditions – one of which was to reduce starting salaries to £19,000 per annum. We agreed to disagree on that point. With such a distinguished visitor we splashed out on some new cups to replace our well used mugs, and lashed out on some biscuits too.

Magistrate Ian Rufus completes my list of engagements for the last couple of weeks. He gave us a presentation on the LCCS programme (Local Crime Community Sentences) which is an attempt to get people to reflect on the knee jerk “lock ’em up and throw away the key” response for crimes where a community sentence might fit the bill better and be cheaper in the long run.

Since we have our meeting in public holding the chief constable to account on Monday, I’ll be making sure today that we have everything we need for that.

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