I have been fortunate to have Chief Constable Andy Parker to work with as I settled in to my new role as Police and Crime Commissioner.
He is a no nonsense, common sense, popular and effective policeman. Because of technicalities I thought initially that I would need to recruit a replacement by July, but happily the rules have changed and I am delighted to be able to announce that by mutual agreement he will be staying on for a further two years.
The alliance with West Mercia is just bedding in and requires consistent and firm leadership and Andy is ideally placed to provide that.
This job is nothing if not varied! Eric and I met with the National Farmers Union officials at Stoneleigh Park. Country Adviser Gary Ford, Warwickshire chairman Jim Meadows, and Henley and Alcester branch chair Duncan Hawley highlighted the problems faced by our farming communities. Being rural, farmers are particularly vulnerable to theft, be it metal, tractors, batteries or diesel. Fly tipping is another time consuming and expensive irritation for our farmers. We have agreed to meet six monthly to ensure that I’m kept abreast of current trends.
In my capacity as a board member of the National Police Air Service (NPAS) I visited Husbands Bosworth. Hospitality was provided by Mick Dunn and the rest of his team. Mick is an ardent advocate for the new NPAS model – particularly with the efficiencies it will achieve. The team had a ‘shout’ while I was there forcing me out of the pilot’s seat causing me (clumsily) to drop my phone (repaired at my own expense!).
The national body where commissioners get together – the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners – met in Birmingham on Wednesday. The funding for Victims Services will be transferred to commissioners next year and so we had a presentation from the hugely impressive Baroness Newlove whose husband was murdered by youths in 2007. Her response – to champion the cause of victims – is truly inspirational. There were two other themes at the conference. A major topic for commissioners will be Stage Two transfers. By September of this year a plan will need to be agreed between commissioners and chief constables as to which staff will be employed by the commissioner and which will be employed by the chief constable. Various options were explored.
I spent two evenings at community forums this week – one at Arbury and Stockingford and the other at North Warwickshire. Those visits are really valuable to me, both from a point of view of being visible, but also to give me the opportunity to meet local officers and get a good insight into local concerns.
The quality of applicants for my local ambassador scheme is truly impressive. This is a new role where I am looking to appoint people to be my “eyes and ears” in the community. I can’t hope to meaningfully engage with Warwickshire’s 500, 000 residents by myself. Interviews start next week.
For some time now Eric and I have been keen to take a close look in more detail at the West Mercia alliance , and in particular how posts across the alliance will be populated. Deputy Chief Constable Neil Brunton and Programme Director Paul Mason-Brown gave us a detailed run though on Thursday.
I finished the week with a radio interview on Radio Coventry and Warwickshire rebutting West Midland’s commissioner Bob Jones’s assertions that we were costing more than previous police authorities. The debate has been fuelled by a very misleading and inaccurate report by the Home Affairs Select Committee – a report with many factual inaccuracies.
I’ll report next week on how my Saturday went attending a skills assessments day for special constables.