Thursday, February 26, 2015


Poor Ann.   It never rains but it pours.  Of course, some people are born to misfortune, others have misfortune thrust upon them but it seems in the case of the unfortunate Mrs. Barnes that she may well be the victim of her own misfortune.

The `incidents` revolving around her time as Kent`s Police and Crime Commissioner are well documented - the bungled appointment of one Paris Brown as the first Youth Commissioner, followed by some unseemly allegations involving Ms. Brown`s successor in the post;  a Channel Four documentary that highlighted Mrs. Barnes`s ineptitude; criticisms over her Ann Force One self-publicising official mode of transport; and just recently a skirmish with the Crown Prosecution Service about allegations of driving around Dartford without insurance.  Fortunately for her, the CPS have come to the conclusion that there is `insufficient evidence` and that it `would not be in the public interest` to pursue that line of inquiry any further.   

Now I have no doubt that in other parts of the country there are Police and Crime Commissioners doing a splendid job in carrying out the original intention of the role which included responsibilities to:-

* secure an efficient and effective police for their area;
* appoint the Chief Constable, hold them to account for running the force and if necessary
  dismiss them;
* set the police and crime objectives for their area through a police and crime plan;
* set the force budget and determine the precept;

Now, given the doubts surrounding the concept of these Commissioners, now that we have them anyway, surely the taxpayers of Kent are entitled to expect that the role will be discharged with the degree of competence that justifies the £85,000 salary.   We hear a lot these days about police `performance` and I have no doubt that the bobbies on the beat are under enormous pressure due to budget cuts, bureaucratic procedures and staff reductions and I have every sympathy with them.   

But in Kent at least, it seems that the perception of police performance is unfairly influenced by the antics of the Police and Crime Commissioner.   Maybe she is just unlucky but the example she sets cannot fill those within her charge or those who pay for the privilege with the degree of confidence that the post demands.   There will be an election for the role in a year or so.  As far as the present incumbent is concerned, as there is `insufficient evidence` and that it is probably `not in the public interest` for her to continue in office beyond the next election,  it really is a case of `move along, please - nothing to see here.`  

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