Perhaps I'm wrong, but I thought that the politicians legislated, the police enforced the legislation impartially, and that rarely the twain should meet. That's the theory - but since 1997 we've seen the unedifying spectacle of the new breed of sociology-grad, fast-tracked, politically correct Chief Constable desperately trying to earn brownie points with their political masters.
Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom (aka 'the Mad Mullah of the Traffic Taleban') doesn't seem to believe in keeping at arms-length from the politicians.
On Monday I went to Cardiff for the day by train (0430hrs start in the office, back at 2130hrs; I can’t do my job and comply with the Working Time Directive - it just isn’t possible).
The purpose of the trip was two-fold. First to hold one of our regular quarterly meetings between the four Chief Constables and Edwina Hart, Welsh Assembly Minister for Social Justice. These meetings have become increasingly useful, and a real commonality of approach is developing.
The second purpose was really exciting. Through Mrs Hart we had arranged for the four Chiefs to meet with the entire Cabinet of the Welsh Assembly Government, a real first. It was a very constructive meeting, lasting nearly 50 minutes. Although not a devolved organisation it is very clear to us in the police that we have a major and growing part to play in the future of Wales. The Cabinet agreed. We wanted to ensure that our style of policing matched hand in glove the strategic vision of the Cabinet - we emerged convinced that it does, and that an even closer and more productive relationship is going to develop as a result. When the Minutes of the meeting are published (government in Wales is commendably open) you will be able to see what we discussed and decided in more detail. This meeting has changed policing in Wales to a significant degree. The future looks really exciting.
It is this sort of thing that convinces me beyond doubt of the benefits of devolution. The ability to engage personally with the entire government as well as with individual ministers is of immeasurable value, and it simply does not and cannot happen across the border in England. Government in Wales is closer to the people and to public servants like me, and as a democrat I like that very much indeed.
Hmmm. I'm all for the police being democratically acountable. I wouldn't mind if Chief Constable was a directly elected post. My worry is that he'll focus on what the politicians are worried about rather than what the people are worried about. The days when their concerns coincided are gone, to return I know not when.
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