It is rather odd for candidates to put themselves forward on the platform of saying that everything is fine and they would let it all carry on as it is. Cllr Anthony Stansfeld, our man for Thames Valley, offers this pitch:
"If elected, I don't think there are going to be any great changes in policing."
Yet there will have to be changes, if for no other reason that the police budget is being cut. The question is what the changes should be.
Then we have this comment from Matt Bennett, the Conservative candidate for the West Midlands Police Commissioner, casually announcing that he would ditch the Business Partnering for Police programme.
“If I do get elected I will not be going down this road. I think this whole scheme, as it stands, is far too broad and open and is clearly now in doubt. I will be very specific and clear in the areas that need to be improved, like IT. I am an old fashioned Tory who believes strongly in public services. I am not in favour of privatising the police. I will look at back office services, as is normal, but policing functions will remain in public hands.”
Has Mr Bennett even read the strategy he is proposing to abandon?
Partnering is not about anyone else delivering core policing services like patrolling, responding to calls for help, investigating crime and managing dangerous offenders. These are areas where the police have the expertise and the public should expect impartial and accountable public servants to carry out this work; Partnering is not privatisation. Policing will remain accountable to the Chief Constable and he/she to the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The partnership with Surrey would, however, offer potential for savings of £15 million on non core policing functions. It would also offer improved services on matters from using the social media to logging calls from the public. If Mr Bennett has any intelligent, serious, objections to that approach then he should let us know. At present he just seems to be tweedledum to the Labour candidate.