South Yorkshire PCC, HMIC and child sexual exploitation

Following publication earlier this week of the “Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham“, the South Yorkshire PCC is under considerable pressure to resign.

It’s worth noting that a year ago, Shaun Wright, the PCC, commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to “carry out a bespoke independent inspection around the effectiveness of the current arrangements within South Yorkshire Police for protecting children from exploitation”. The HMIC report was published in November 2013, with a revisit in May 2014. HMIC wrote to the PCC in July 2014, with their response to this revisit. The BBC reported this under the headline “South Yorkshire Police praised over child crime cases”.

Earlier this morning, I updated an earlier blog of mine entitled “South Yorkshire PCC: where next?“, to suggest that the Home Secretary might consider use of Section 40 of the Police Act 1996. I’d said:

Section 40 of the Police Act 1996 does indeed provide powers that the Home Secretary can turn to in certain circumstances where an inspection finds significant weaknesses in a force’s operation. As HMIC has yesterday published a report containing significant criticisms of South Yorkshire Police on crime recording, will this option be on Theresa May’s desk this morning?

Might Shaun Wright now choose to argue that his much earlier commissioning of HMIC to investigate the force’s approach child sexual exploitation, and its subsequent report, should prevent the Home Secretary’s use of this power?

My blog from July 2013 entitled “Accepting PCCs’ commissions: a real reputational risk for HMIC” may also be relevant in these circumstances.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

South Yorkshire PCC: where next?

Shaun Wright has announced overnight that he’s resigned from the Labour Party and staying put as South Yorkshire PCC. What might happen next?

I blogged yesterday about what happens if a PCC resigns, though that was focused on his or her resigning as PCC, not from their party. I also blogged that “you can show PCCs the door, but they don’t have to leave” – and that is precisely what has now happened.

Where next? We’ll see one or more of the following coming in to play…

  • the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel will almost certainly take a more prominent role. I blogged about one aspect of this for the Guardian yesterday, and the Panel Chair Harry Harpham has now commented, calling for the PCC to step down. Whilst Panels can’t force PCCs out (again see my blog from yesterday) – and, indeed, they can’t compel a PCC to attend any Panel meeting – their scrutiny can make life very uncomfortable for the PCC. And, unless the PCC is charged with an offence carrying a maximum sentence of over 2 years, that’s the most they can do.
  • Concerned local residents formally complaining about the PCC. These complaints will ultimately find their way to the Police and Crime Panel (see above). There’s no threshold of complaints above which the PCC has to resign – but, again, these could add to pressure on the PCC.
  • Continued national and local political pressure. The Labour Party has already shown their displeasure, and the Home Secretary has suggested the PCC should consider his position. It’s initially difficult to see what more pressure might be applied. However, to do his or her job, a PCC relies on the support of a wide range of politicians and officials – local politicians in particular. Withdrawal of support for a PCC by politicians and officials – local councillors in particular – would make it very difficult for any PCC to do their job.

It’s been clear for some months that there are significant flaws in the relevant PCC legislation – the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. Whilst the South Yorkshire PCC may be able to stay in post for some time yet, it’s now likely that we’ll see amendments to the legislation sooner rather than later.

UPDATE [Thursday, 28th August, 8.20am]: Just seen a petition calling for Shaun Wright to resign as South Yorkshire PCC. Currently at 1,123 signatories.

UPDATE [Thursday, 28th August, 11.15am]: I’ve just looked again at Shaun Wright’s contribution to the recent Fabian Society Policy Report “Letting in the light”, with 13 contributions from Labour PCCs. Shaun Wright’s article is entitled “Commission possible”, examining strategies to reduce reoffending. The article makes it clear that there is a heavy reliance in this work on the PCC’s liaison with local councillors and others (including Victim Support): it illustrates the importance of my third bullet point above.

UPDATE [Friday, 29th August, 8.05am]: A key observation on Twitter from Miranda Carruthers-Watt, in response to a tweet from Peter Neyroud:

Miranda Carruthers-Watt tweet

Section 40 of the Police Act 1996 does indeed provide powers that the Home Secretary can turn to in certain circumstances where an inspection finds significant weaknesses in a force’s operation. As HMIC has yesterday published a report containing significant criticisms of South Yorkshire Police on crime recording, will this option be on Theresa May’s desk this morning?

UPDATE [Friday, 29th August, 8.30am]: One further – though perhaps remote – possibility. The Home Affairs Select Committee is taking evidence on “Police, the media and high-profile investigations” next Tuesday, 2nd September. The South Yorkshire Chief Constable is scheduled to give evidence. Maybe the Select Committee will, at short notice, also invite the South Yorkshire PCC?

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

If there were to be a PCC by-election in South Yorkshire, who might the candidates be?

A little speculation on possible events in South Yorkshire, drawing on some history and acknowledging there’s no by-election as things stand.

If there were to be a by-election, would any of the candidates from November 2012 stand again?

Shaun Wright convincingly won the South Yorkshire PCC election in November 2012 with 51.4% of the vote.

South Yorkshire PCC results Nov 2012

 

Labour’s selection process was – compared to many other PCC selections – relatively hard fought, going to three rounds…

  • 4th: Med Hughes – 382 first round votes
  • 3rd: Alan Billings – 461, rising to 592 second round votes
  • 2nd: Kash Walayat – 622, 671, rising to 861 third round votes
  • 1st: Shaun Wright – 972, 1,116, rising to 1,353 third round votes

Kash Walayat now is a member of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel. He was reported as “quitting his job” in order to run in the November 2012 PCC elections, and published a selection address at that time.

Rev Canon Dr Alan Billings is, according to Wikipedia, a retired Anglican priest and a current member of the Youth Justice Board.

Med Hughes is the former Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police.

Looking now at the PCC election candidates from other parties (no details of others competing for party selection are available):

 

David Allen, English Democrat candidate: can find no details online with certainty.

Nigel Bonson, Conservative: November 2012 candidate statement, a former Greater Manchester Chief Inspector

Jonathan Arnott, UKIP: is now a UKIP MEP.

Rob Teal, Liberal Democrat: is on the Executive Committee for Rotherham and Barnsley Liberal Democrats

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What happens if a PCC resigns?

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 deals with “Resignation of commissioner” as follows – blink and you might miss it…

PRSR 2011 - resignation of PCC

The Police and Crime Panel must appoint an Acting PCC (extract below)…

PRSR 2011 - appointment of Acting PCC

First in line to take on the role of “Acting PCC” is the Deputy PCC (if there is one). Given today’s events in South Yorkshire, it’s worth noting that their Deputy PCC is Tracey Cheetham…

South Yorkshire Deputy PCC - Tracey Cheetham

 

 

If the Deputy PCC was not prepared (or able) to accept the role, the Panel would then have to find a suitable Acting PCC from amongst the OPCC (Office of the PCC) staff.

A by-election must be called as follows…

PRSR 2011 - election to fill PCC vacancy

 

UPDATE [Wednesday 27th August, 4.10pm]: I thought I’d take a look at who might be appointed Acting PCC in South Yorkshire if the PCC resigned and the Deputy hadn’t been available. You’d expect it to be the most senior member of the OPCC – the Chief Executive (though that creates another set of difficulties for another blog). But – despite this information being required by law – I couldn’t find the name of the South Yorkshire OPCC Chief Executive on the South Yorkshire PCC website. There’s details of a recruitment campaign for a new Chief Executive in October 2013, but (again, required by law) I can find no information on the appointment listed in the PCC’s decisions. The Police and Crime Panel website‘s also no help.

UPDATE [Wednesday 27th August, 5.45pm]: Incidentally, legislation on “election to fill vacancy in office of commissioner” specifies “the date fixed must be not more than 35 days after the relevant event”. If the South Yorkshire PCC were to resign tomorrow (Thursday, 28th August), that suggests that the South Yorkshire PCC by-election would be no later than Thursday 2nd October, with campaigning taking place throughout Party Conference season.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

You can show PCCs the door, but they don’t have to leave…

PCC-related developments in South Yorkshire today have again drawn attention to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. This was the enabling Act for PCC-related legislation. Of particular note today: unless the PCC is charged with a serious offence (i.e. maximum term of imprisonment of more than two years), you’re stuck with them. And even if they ARE charged with a serious offence, the most the Police and Crime Panel can do is suspend them.

PRSA 2011 - suspension of PCC

PCCs can be disqualified from being a Police and Crime Commissioner. But the ways are few…

PRSR 2011 - disqualification

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

West Midlands PCC by-election: three conclusions to draw…

I spent this morning live-blogging the West Midlands PCC by-election count. The election was won by Labour’s David Jamieson on the first round – here are the raw results:

WestMids PCC by-election results

 

That is:

  1. Jamieson (Labour): 102,561 (50.8%)
  2. Jones (Conservative): 54,091 (26.8%)
  3. Rowe (UKIP): 32,187 (16.0%)
  4. Khan (Liberal Democrat): 12,950 (6.4%)

In the first West Midlands PCC elections in November 2012, below are the first round results. It went to a second round of counting, which, as there was no second round in the by-election, I’ve excluded from this analysis.

(I’ve also decided not to comment in this blog on the voting system used. It’s the Supplementary Vote system, summarised on the Parliament website – though, remarkably, still no mention of PCC elections on the relevant Parliament website page!)

Anyhow, I digress…

  1. Bob Jones (Labour): 100,130 (42.0%)
  2. Matt Bennett (Conservative): 44,130 (18.5%)
  3. Cath Hannon (Independent): 30,778 (12.9%)
  4. Bill Etheridge (UKIP): 17,563 (7.4%)
  5. Derek Webley (Independent): 17,488 (7.3%)
  6. Ayoub Khan (Liberal Democrat): 15,413 (6.5%)
  7. Mike Rumble (Independent): 12,882 (5.4%)

What’s particularly worth noting?

Firstly, the turnout fell, from 12% in November 2012 to 10.4% this time. I suspect that supporters of the PCC system will be heaving a sigh of relief that it didn’t fall into single figures. The Government is probably now also quietly relieved at its decision to spend £700,000 on a leaflet circulated across the West Midlands publicising these elections – might the turnout have fallen below 10% had they not?

Next, the Labour candidate won this by-election with no need for a “second round” – as David Jamieson won over 50% of votes in the first round. It could be argued this is a better performance for Labour than in November 2012, where a second round was needed.

Thirdly, Labour, Conservative and UKIP (with different candidates from last time) all increased the number of votes they attracted, despite the reduced turnout. Notably, the Liberal Democrat vote (with the same candidate) fell.

But…

(Perhaps obviously – but worth restating) there were no Independents in this by-election. Independents, collectively, took 25.6% of the November 2012 first round vote in the West Midlands. If Independent candidates had stood in this by-election, it’s very likely that they would have taken first round votes from the four party candidates who did stand. The four main parties have all undoubtedly benefited from this absence. For all bar the Liberal Democrats, the absence of Independents probably allows them to glean some satisfaction from the results.

It’s well worth noting that the best-performing Independent in the original (November 2012) election, Cath Hannon, has this morning tweeted as follows…

Tweet CathHannon 1204

 

 

Three conclusions…

I’ll leave any conclusions on the national political party “share of vote” implications to others. (I’m particularly hoping that @election_data will run an analysis of the figures). Confining myself to policing, and to policing governance…

1. This by-election has highlighted (more) areas where PCC-related legislation is flawed. If PCCs are to remain (and Labour may pledge to replace them with Policing Boards), then the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 will need amendment. The list of potential amendments is not short, and will surely need to include the mechanism for by-elections. It was wholly inappropriate to have to hold the by-election so soon after the unexpected loss of the late Bob Jones, expensive to have to hold it in August, and inevitable that turnout would be even lower.

2. The return of a Labour West Midlands PCC will probably influence the party’s consideration of its approach to policing governance. Why so? Imagine the impact had Labour lost this by-election. The pressure on the party for a manifesto pledge to abolish PCCs would surely have increased very markedly. Instead, David Jamieson can attend the Labour Party conference as its latest by-election victor. Labour may still decide to go with “Policing Boards” to replace PCCs – but the pressure to commit to that would surely have been irresistible had David Jamieson lost or the by-election been closer.

3. Future Independent PCC candidates are likely to find the electoral odds increasingly stacked against them. This by-election not only increases the likelihood of change to relevant legislation, it also reminds the major parties that they are better off without Independents to complicate the voting decision. If PCCs survive the 2015 General Election as the mechanism for policing governance, then the parliamentary process to amend the Police Reform Act could provide plenty of opportunity for amendments that – intentionally or otherwise – will weaken independent candidates’ chances in PCC elections. For example, the November 2012 PCC election date (with very few concurrent elections) helped Independents, the May 2015 date for the next PCC elections (with several concurrent local council elections) will work against them. The political party machines for that May 2015 election will anyway be operating in support of local council candidates, and will inevitably assist party PCC candidates. If more discretion were (rightly) provided for PCC by-elections, who will decide when those by-elections should be held? Maybe only those incumbent Independent PCCs who have delivered an impressive track record will be able to buck this trend.

I may add to this blog if or when anything else strikes me. In particular, I’m planning to comment soon on the campaigns (insofar as they were visible) that the four parties pursued in this by-election, and the policing policies that they set out.

In the meantime, I’d love to have your comments and feedback on what’s above…

UPDATE (Friday 22nd August 2014, 4.30pm): @election_data has now published some excellent mapping analysis of this by-election here

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

West Mids PCC by-election count “as it happens”

For those interested in politics, policing, West Midlands, a combination – or perhaps who have arrived here by accident: this blog will be regularly updated throughout today (Friday 22nd August, 2014) with details of what’s happening in the West Midlands PCC by-election count. A disclaimer: I’m not at the count, I’m relying on a combination of social and traditional media, plus phone calls from those actually there!

Key person: Mark Rogers is the Returning Officer (and Chief Executive at Birmingham City Council)

Here goes…

12.26am (i.e. just after midnight) – first turnout figure

Tweet Mark Rogers 0026

 

8.08am – possibility that result announced this morning (rather than second round counted into the afternoon)…

Tweet Mark Rogers 0808

8.17am – further turnout figures…

Tweet Mark Rogers 0817

8.51am – the Guardian comments on the first few turnout figures.

8.56am – Coventry City Council tweets…

Tweet CoventryCC 0856

 

9.24am: Some basic Twitter stats for the four candidates. 

If the election was decided on the basis of Twitter followers, the UKIP candidate would be home and dry:

Twitter followers (as at 9.24am today):

  • Keith Rowe, UKIP (@KeithRoweUKIP): 2031 followers (and 213 tweets)
  • Les Jones, Conservative (@LesJonesPCC): 607 followers (and 3369 tweets)
  • David Jamieson, Labour (@D_C_Jamieson): 397 followers (and 163 tweets)
  • Ayoub Khan, Liberal Democrat (@AyoubKhanPCC): 250 followers (and 283 tweets)

9.49am: Counting in Birmingham…

Tweet BirminghamNewsroom 0948

 

1oam: Coventry turnout announced – 9.54% 

Tweet CoventryCC 1000

 

10.21am: Sandwell turnout – 9.8%

Tweet Sandwell 1019

 

10.24am: Neil Elkes, Local Government correspondent for the Birmingham Mail…

Tweet Neil Elkes 1024

 

10.32am: Turnout figures for individual areas all now available… Total turnout 10.32% -

  • Birmingham: 10.26%
  • Coventry: 9.54%
  • Dudley: 11.4%
  • Sandwell: 9.8%
  • Solihull: 11.58%
  • Walsall: 10.72%
  • Wolverhampton: 10.19%

10.39am: BBC WM News Editor Chris Blakemore – on the “cost per vote”

BBC West Mids live 1039

 

11.20am: Turnout fell as low as 1% in some polling stations…

Tweet WolvesCC 1120

11.35am: First round results from Coventry. 

  1. Jamieson (Labour) – 12,394
  2. Jones (Conservative) – 5,061
  3. Rowe (UKIP) – 3,535
  4. Khan (Liberal Democrat) – 1,031

 

11.40am: First round results from Birmingham

  1. Jamieson (Labour) – 39,406
  2. Jones (Conservative) – 17,338
  3. Rowe (UKIP) – 9,162
  4. Khan (Liberal Democrat) – 7,543

11.46am: I just tweeted: “Listening to radio station I shan’t name. Political journo sadly himself showing that understanding of (& voting system) still poor”

11.57am: We’re told by the Returning Officer that the First Round results are imminent…

11.58am: The Returning Officer has two minutes… if he’s to declare “this am” (see 8.08am)

12.04pm: Cath Hannon, an Independent candidate at the first West Mids PCC election in November 2012 – she came third in those elections to Labour and Conservative candidates, beating four other candidates…

Tweet CathHannon 1204

 

12.14pm: Mark Rogers, the Returning Officer…

Tweet Mark Rogers 1214

12.34pm: Result announced: David Jamieson elected West Midlands PCC, securing 50.8% of the first round votes – so second round not needed. Full details on the West Midlands PCC official website.

Now going to focus on writing a “comment” piece – which I’ll publish as soon as it’s ready…

WestMids PCC by-election results

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized