As you may well imagine there has been a bit of a firestorm on Twitter lately with the announcement that Boris Johnson has appointed Blair Gibbs to work alongside Steve Greenhalgh, the Deputy Mayor for Policing, at Johnson Towers as Principal Advisor apparently (whatever that entails). This appointment is controversial in oh so many ways.
It comes at the end of a week when the Police Service nationally is reeling after the publication of the Hillsborough Enquiry findings. Much has been said about that and I will not comment further.
Damian Green MP, the new Policing Minister, announced this week that he will not reverse any of the recommendations contained within the Winsor Independent Review of Police Officer
and Staff Remuneration and Conditions.
Nationally Police Officers are still shell-shocked over the damage that Winsor recommendations, endorsed by Theresa May, will do to their pensions. Despite assurances from Mrs May and others, there are many officers serving who will see their Police Pensions devalued. I firmly believe, and have always believed, that if one wishes to change the Terms and Conditions of any pension scheme, not just the Police Pension, it should apply to new-joiners only. Existing members should always be left with what they signed up to. People who know more about this than I do tell me that this course of action may even be unlawful.
So, the timing couldn’t really have been much worse.
Then we come to the appointment itself and the direction that Policing is heading in.
No matter how many reports on the subject Blair Gibbs has written whilst at Policy Exchange, I am completely unaware that he has any actual policing experience. Now that may sound familiar to you. Only recently it was announced that Tom Winsor would be the New Chief Inspector of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. He too has no policing experience. So now we have two important, professional advisory bodies with senior management having no experience of policing. Even the appointment of Steve Greenhalgh himself in May this year was controversial Mayor’s appointment of policing chief Stephen Greenhalgh branded ‘a complete shambles’ It would appear that Mr Greenhalgh has no experience of policing either. That brings us to 3 with nil practical experience.
As I pointed out in an earlier blog Policy Exchange authored the report Footing the Bill: Reforming the Police Service which I accept was published in 2008 before Blair Gibbs’ tenure there, I am absolutely certain that he will not go against the ‘vision’ of Policy Exchange and that outsourcing on a grand scale will now come to the Metropolis.
Blair Gibbs will not enjoy the support of rank and file London bobbies I am sure after his well-publicised and ill-judged 4 Horsemen Tweet. If that is an example of his judgement I despair for the citizens of London, for it is they who ultimately carry the risk of outsourcing. The government, Boris, Police Authorities and PCC candidates up and down the land may try to convince us that the risk with outsourcing would be carried by the company providing the services (G4S for example), but in reality it is surely the PUBLIC who carry the risk. IF we go down the outsourcing route we cannot afford for it to fail.
Finally, a little piece of news at the beginning of July may have passed you by, certainly if you live/work outside London. Catherine Crawford and her deputy Jane Harwood both left the employ of Mayor Boris quite unexpectedly. The story is covered here Two top policing advisers to London mayor leave Now I happen to know Catherine Crawford, she was Chief Executive of the Metropolitan Police Authority when I worked there. We had our disagreements (no surprise there really) and I don’t suppose for one moment that she would remember me, but my point is that whilst she was not, and never had been a Police Officer, by virtue of her role she had a reasonable handle on policing. I can’t remember ever meeting her deputy but the same applies really. I have to be honest and state here and now that I have no knowledge of why they left, but I find it completely extraordinary that two top people like that would leave their employment, unannounced on the same day.
In a leaked email, seen by the BBC, to former and current colleagues, Ms Crawford and Ms Harwood said: “We are very sorry that it has not been possible to see all of you face to face to tell you that today is our last day in the office.
“The timing has been outside our control.”
Maybe there is an inference to be drawn there, who knows. The end result is that two people with at least some experience of policing have been replaced by one person with none, so all is looking good for policing in London.
I have been able to locate the job advert, advertised just about 10 days prior to the departure of Ms Crawford and Ms Harwood. It reads like this
MOPAC is seeking a Principal Advisor to the recently appointed Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC). This is a new post and the successful applicant will provide high level strategic and policy advice to the DMPC, representing them at external and internal forums and developing effective partnerships with a wide range of pan London and national stakeholders. Significant recent experience of developing policy and strategy on policing and/or criminal justice and of advising on such policies and strategies at a high level is essential.
MOPAC welcomes applications from a wide range of diverse backgrounds. Reasonable adjustment will be made to working arrangements to accommodate a person with a disability who otherwise would be prevented from undertaking the work.
For further information on the post please contact MOPAC on 020 7xxx xxxx
All applications are to be received by 5.00pm on Wednesday 4th July 2012.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime is an equal opportunities employer.
The salary, if you’re interested, is in the range £52k – £58k p.a.
I’m sure Blair Gibbs will be only too happy to draw upon his time at Policy Exchange to ‘help’ Bernard Hogan-Howe meet the stringent budgetary cutbacks he needs to find.
Will the last one out please turn off the lights.