Thursday, December 06, 2012

Northamptonshire PCC, cronyism and the politicisation of the police

The Northampton Chronicle & Echo reports that Stuart McCartney, the Conservatives’ political assistant at Northamptonshire County Council, has been appointed as the new strategic adviser to the county’s Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds.

Not only that:
Meanwhile, the leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition at County Hall, Councillor Brendan Glynane, has reacted with “astonishment” to Mr Simmonds proposing to create 17 new jobs. 
He said: “I am absolutely stunned at his actions. All throughout the campaign he refused to say what he would do if he was elected. Now we know why. He is creating 17 jobs on huge salaries for his Conservative campaign team, financed by the hard-pressed taxpayers of Northamptonshire. 
“Many people said they were concerned about the politicisation of the police during the election. However, I don’t think anyone expected this – 17 jobs at high salaries, many of them going to Tory loyalists. 
“The Conservatives are creating an entire party political office to run our Police force.” He added: “Even more ludicrously, one of these political appointments will be a ‘value-for-money’ officer. You just couldn’t make it up. People will be outraged and rightly so. The total cost to the taxpayer could exceed £800k per year. 
“To add insult to injury his first duty was to email existing staff and tell them there was no money and their jobs were at risk. The Conservative PCC appears to be using taxpayers money to pay for jobs for the boys and girls. 
“This is political cronyism writ large.”
If there are to be such party appointments across the country then the complaint that the introduction of PCCs represents a politicisation of the police will be strengthened.

And, whomever they appoint, if PCCs are going to employ staff on this scale then the argument that the new system is diverting funds that should be used for everyday policing is strengthened too.

As the Chronicle & Echo says:
The Government has yet to say whether it will release additional central funding for the UK’s 41 PCCs, but if that is not forthcoming, the cost of the new commission is likely to come from the existing police budget.

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