Rupert Matthews is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire and Rutland.
Day 1 as Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. I sit at my desk, Lord of all I survey. But something is missing. My eyes scan the room and fall on the door flapping open in the breeze from the window. Ah!
I stick my head out of the door and ask my new PA if I can have a lock and handle on the door so that I can secure it.
“Why do you want a lock on the door”, asks a passing member of staff.
“So I can lock it,” I reply.
First order of business is to meet the staff in the OPCC [Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner]. Of course, they’re not actually there as they are all working from home. I decide that I will call them all in for a meeting on the Monday. Apparently that is a problem as there is only one room in the entire police estate big enough.
Just how many staff have I got?
Apparently not enough. In addition to the 28 staff on the staffing diagram I’ve been given, we are currently recruiting two more. I put a pause on the recruitment process until I have had time to make up my own mind if I need even more staff.
Hmmm. I wonder what other decisions were taken by my predecessor just as he was leaving office.
I arrive to find a workman hammering away at my office door. He is fitting the lock.
“Can I have one of the keys to your office,” asks one of my staff. Why? “Oh, umm. In case I need access to your office when you’re not here.” I say no.
I’ve asked for a list of decisions made by my predecessor during his final months in office. It’s a long list. £200,000 here, £100,000 there, £50,000 somewhere else. All of them spending commitments made against my budget for this year. Oh, hang on. What’s this. That item looks a bit odd. I’m going to need advice. I put a stop on all expenditure until I have had a chance to look at the projects.
My office door opens and a head pops in. “Can I have a key for your office?” asks another member of staff. “Why?” I ask. “Oh, well. What if there is an emergency. Say a fire breaks out when you are on holiday.” Fair point, but I’m funny about keys to offices. I give the spare key to the Head of Security and tell him he can use it in an emergency.
Next up the Budget. Nothing special there. How about the forward planning. Usual stuff. Oh, wait. In 2024 we are going to be £11 million in deficit! I’ll need to look into that. Reserves, they look healthy right now, what about the future? Oh dear. Down to the bare legal minimum by 2024. I poke about the budget a bit further. More bad news. This will take careful handling.
Why does 2024 ring a bell. Oh yes, that’s the date of the next PCC election. Urk!
That report into the project set up by my predecessor is back. Waffle waffle, illegal, blah blah, racist. Wait, what! “illegal” “racist”. Well, that project is getting axed for a start. And I’ll go through the rest with a fine-tooth comb.
I’d better read the agenda for the meeting this afternoon. Police recruitment figures, forthcoming grant decisions, meetings with Black Lives Matter. Hang on. Why are we meeting an organisation that wants to defund the police, has put police officers in hospital, and desecrated the cenotaph in London?
Come the meeting, I have a dozen or so faces looking at me from the Teams screen. “Any Other Business”. “Yes,” I say. “As of now this organisation will have absolutely no contact at all with Black Lives Matter.” There is a deathly silence. Meeting over, the screen goes blank.
A rare moment that sees me alone with a cup of tea. I wonder what stationary I have in my desk. Top drawer is the usual clutter of paperclips, post-it notes and pencils. Second drawer much the same, the third drawer is completely full of agendas and reports. I pull them out. The first is dated 2016, the second 2015, and the third 2014. My predecessor obviously never got as far as drawer 3. I wonder what he did spend his time doing.
Walking down to the staff canteen for lunch, I pass the Head of Security and say hello. “Ah, Mr Matthews,” he says. “I got that list ok.” What list? “The list of people who can have the key to your office.” I tell him to tear it up.
My first week is coming to an end. I sit at the desk, Lord of all I survey.
God help me.