Do you need a copper to inspect the cops?

 

Until now, the person charged with inspecting the police in England and Wales has always been an ex-copper.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is supposed to be independent of government and the police - its boss technically an appointment of the Crown. But the reality has always been that the home secretary chooses the Chief Inspector of Constabulary and that individual is drawn from the senior ranks of the police service.

Until now.

Today the Home Office announced that its preferred choice for the job is Tom Winsor, the "civilian" lawyer whose recent proposals for reforming police pay and conditions have gone down as well with ordinary coppers as a vomiting drunk in the custody suite.

Tom Winsor Tom Winsor has carried out a review of police pay and conditions

The committee representing police inspectors in England and Wales has said the decision "simply beggars belief". Matt Cavanagh from the left-leaning think-tank IPPR, said it was a "risky if not reckless choice", a "provocative" appointment which could damage the reputation of the inspectorate.

The central argument seems to be that only someone with years of experience of policing can do the job. Paul McKeever from the Police Federation has said: "If ever there was a need for sagacious advice from someone with a profound understanding of policing, it is now."

The subtext here is that officers would dearly like the head of the HMIC to be someone who would defend the police service against the impact of some of the government's reform proposals. What they appear to have got as the new chief inspector is the very man who came up with the reforms in the first place.

The fact that Theresa May has named such a controversial outsider sends a powerful message to the service that the government is committed to significant reform and, after being heckled and booed at the Police Federation conference last month, is content to take on the rank and file.

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The fact that Theresa May has named such a controversial outsider sends a powerful message to the service that the government is committed to significant reform”

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But is there some truth in the charge that only an insider can have the "deep and profound understanding of policing" required for the job? Or might Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone be right in suggesting: "The fact that he is not from a police background is innovative and it may be brilliant."?

Arguments for and against external appointments to public positions were presented to the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee a couple of years ago. The subsequent report, "Outsiders and Insiders", concluded that the senior civil service "should take appropriate measures to reduce its reliance on external recruitment, not least because outside appointees do not appear to perform better than career civil servants - despite being paid more".

They heard from the then Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell who argued that bringing in new skills and thinking was enormously valuable. "Getting people from a wide range of backgrounds, the private sector and wider public sector… is really good for us," he argued. "We should not sit back and say that we should have only talent that we grow internally."

However, the committee also heard from the Ofsted chair Zenna Atkins, who said outside recruits found it very difficult not to do one of two things: "One is to go native and just go along with what the public sector has done and to buy into, 'that's the way it's done here'… or the other thing is you are continually banging your head against the wall and are not able to navigate your way through the way things are done."

The report produced a table which was said to provide "some slight support for the belief that external appointees on the whole perform less well than internal recruits".

Table from Outsiders and Insiders report

However, if the aim is to challenge the norms and procedures of an organisation, to stir things up a bit, then experience from business suggests an outside appointment can have transformative effects.

When Adam Crozier was appointed chief executive of the Football Association in 2000, there were plenty of raised eyebrows. He was the opposite of what was expected for the governing body of England's national game - young (35), Scottish and with no experience of business in football.

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Experience from business suggests an outside appointment can have transformative effects”

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In his short tenure, Crozier is credited with turning the FA into a much younger and more commercial organisation. He made enemies and his approach had its critics, but others argue that only someone completely outside the old Lancaster Gate cabal could have pushed through such needed change.

Last month, the debt-laden tour operator Thomas Cook appointed an industry outsider as its new chief executive. Harriet Green's background is in electronic components distribution. Again, the aim seems to be to shake things up. The board said she had been hired because of her "extensive experience of driving business transformation and change programmes".

The question of who should be the next director general of the BBC also sees a split between those who want an experienced internal "steady-as-she-goes" candidate and those demanding more radical change pushed through by someone from outside the corporation.

So the appointment of Tom Winsor as Chief Inspector of Constabulary, should it happen, signals something more profound than ministers putting two fingers up to belligerent bobbies. It is strong evidence that this government wants transformative cultural change in the police service. Expect fireworks.

 
Mark Easton Article written by Mark Easton Mark Easton Home editor

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 128.

    But working over a couple of hours should be claimed & most often is.In what other line of work would you expect to be with a victim of crime and say,as the clock hits finishing time,Sorry, but I've got to go now?We don't do it,& we don't do it because we,in the vast majority of cases,care about people.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 127.

    As a cop of 20 years myself, I think the service does need some reforming, and it shouldn't resist this. But the changes it's undergoing at present, their scope and speed are very destabalising. Moral is poor and rewards are dwindling. In my own station many officers regularly work over and do NOT claim, that's how it's always been.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 126.

    The attitude of the police is amazing.

    They have allowed the public to face harrasment from thugs, retreated from pursuing property crime, harrased the public with marginal speeding offences, failed to prosecute murders, sought favour with certain elements in the media and expect the public to accept no change is necessary.

    To them I say wake up, remember your duty and do it.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 125.

    Did this bloke any chance used to work for News International...???

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 124.

    the main issue is that he comes with the support of the GOV and must mean he is either useless or corrupt. he may well reorganise the financial set up of the police but will he be able to make the changes to be of benefit to us the public or will he be working to the wants of the CONLIB agenda which are not necessarily the same thing. does he understand what the officers need to do their jobs

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 123.

    I d prefer to see someone else performing this role, it will be hard for him based on the police response to his report so not sure this is sensible. We are also getting politicians to run police forces in November, thats going to have a massive impact as well, have a look at http://policecrimecommissioner.co.uk to see what that will mean, will a non government PCC be happy to work with him?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 122.

    We only have to see how the Police were involved during the Leveson Enquiry to see that it needs a change at the top.
    Having said that - I totally back the average Police 'foot-soldier' - it's time they had better leadership.
    Sometimes a 'new brush' can clean better where the dirt has accumulated for too long...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 121.

    Implementing these reforms will be the most important part of the new Chief Inspector's job. How can Winsor possibly do so dispassionately when he's the one who wrote them?

    I'm sure he's intelligent, experienced, knowledgeable and has the skills to do the job. But he's going to be have the job of reviewing his own work. Surely, there must have been a *genuinely* independent candidate.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 120.

    This is part of the big plan to bring the 'Policing' of this Country under direct political control. From partisan commissioners, the introduction of PCSOs, commercial bodies into Policing, amalgamating Forces, introduction of Highways Agency Traffic Officer Service.
    If you think that good - OK, but its being done incrementally through the backdoor without proper research and public debate.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 119.

    When this bloke looked at Police pay & conditions he needed a Policing expert to help him.....

    ....as in he knows nothing about Policing & will need the same again this time....

    ....why not just give the job to the advisor & cut out the middle man, not least as it'll save a small fortune......

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 118.

    Reminiscent of Maggie Thatcher appointing Ian McGregor to deal with the miners, once he had proven 'worthy', having dealt with the steelworkers! Experienced police officers understand the complexities of the organisation, operational demands, anti-terrorist policies etc. A lawyer is well versed on the law, but knows little of what the Force has to deal with (hands on). Big mistake in my opinion.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 117.

    Chair, Constables’ Committee of Police Federation, Julie Nesbit, said Mr Winsor would leave himself open to claims of a 'conflict of interest' because last of Winsor recommendations are not due to be implemented until 2018. She said person chosen should be “completely independent”.
    Do we need a copper to inspect the cops? Maybe not, but I can't help but feel Winsor was wrong choice.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 116.

    May has claimed that Winsor is 'the best man for the job' - who were the other applicants and why did they fall short?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 115.

    A/Chairman of Metropolitan Police Federation, John Tully said appt was “flawed”. He said Mr Winsor is qualified to carry out the regulatory duties of the post (background as lawyer), but advising on operational issues such as terrorism, serious disorder, & appt of senior police officers (incl chief constables) is where he lacks any experience whatsoever.
    And Olympics are coming...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 114.

    Chairman of Police Federation has not referred to fireworks; he bespeaks "train crash' in Police Service. Tom Winsor as the new HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary seems to be a further indication govt wants to push ahead with its reform agenda - regardless of what the professionals think. It also hints at thrust towards privatisation of the Police Service.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 113.

    It's a controversial choice for sure! Theresa May has picked lawyer, former rail regulator Tom Winsor for £200,000/yr post as Chief Inspector of Constabulary, this less than month after 35,000 officers marched on London in protest at Mr Winsor’s recent review into their pay & conditions amid government cuts.
    Expect fireworks indeed!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 112.

    The Police Federation is a militant union with leaders equally as dangerous as the usual lunatic left union leaders.
    They believe that the Police Service should have unfettered control of activity, policy, discipline and reward levels - all for the benefit of their members.
    The public which they are surposed to serve are in their eyes (to quote Goldman Sachs on customers) are 'Muppets'.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 111.

    its all so worrying for the cops that the government are actually going to employ somebody who may end the corruption.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 110.

    The Tories generally have liked self-regulation, hough it doesn't work because of the conflicts of interest (CoI) make the regulatory bodies toothless. Those regulated also like self-regulation for the same reasons: CoI work to their advantage. Having realised this, the govt. appoints someone with different, equally serious, CoI to those being regulated. They are incompetent and don't get it.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 109.

    It's rather silly of the Police Federation to suggest that nobody else could do the job of HMIC. In Goverment/private/public sector individuals not related to that industry are brought in to scrutinise how they are performing, its the best way to get an unbiased view of performance. The police are no different in this respect and just might benefit from a fresh pair of eyes.

 

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