Kent

Ann Barnes show 'makes Kent Police a laughing stock'

  • 30 May 2014
  • From the section Kent
Ann Barnes in Meet the Police Commissioner
Channel 4 spent four months filming Ann Barnes for its Meet the Police Commissioner documentary

A TV documentary on Kent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Ann Barnes has made the force a laughing stock, its officers have said.

The Channel 4 programme Meet the Police Commissioner, screened on Thursday night, was billed as an exploration of her "surreal world".

"It was a disaster from start to finish," said Ian Pointon, chairman of Kent Police Federation.

Mrs Barnes said she did the show to help people understand the job better.

In the hour-long Cutting Edge programme, Mrs Barnes talks about her £85,000-a-year role.

'Very sad'

At points in the broadcast, she struggles to explain an approach to policing priorities called "the onion", brings her dogs into the office and fails to write her title correctly on a whiteboard.

Mr Pointon said Mrs Barnes had been advised within Kent Police not to do the programme.

"Sadly it has turned Kent Police by association into something of a laughing stock," he said.

"In fairness to Mrs Barnes I think the positive within it was she was clearly campaigning for more resources and that should be recognised."

Ian Pointon said the Channel 4 programme was a disaster

Mr Pointon later said an aeroplane flying over Kent Police HQ in Maidstone with a banner calling on Mrs Barnes to resign had nothing to do with the federation.

The 75ft (23m) long banner was trailed by pilot Simon Moores for 30 minutes.

Mr Moores, 57, said: "We set off from Rochester airport, which is the nearest one to the police headquarters, and flew for 30 minutes, around 15 minutes of which was above Kent Police."

He refused to disclose who had ordered the banner to be flown.

Mrs Barnes' former campaign manager Howard Cox said it was a "very sad" programme to watch.

"I felt immensely sorry for Ann. She is better than the way she was portrayed," he said.

Mrs Barnes said in a statement she had not taken the decision lightly to let a film crew examine the work of the office for four months.

The Police Federation said it was not involved with a banner in Maidstone

"I hoped it would give an insight into what is being done to help achieve the best possible police service for Kent," she said.

"I am disappointed that there is too much emphasis on me as an individual and not enough on the work of the office."

Channel 4 said Mrs Barnes viewed the whole programme prior to transmission and was satisfied that it was fair and accurate.

The spokeswoman added: "As with all our observational documentaries, Meet The Police Commissioner was made in accordance with Ofcom regulations and our best standards practise."

A spokeswoman from the Home Office said: "The introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners has been the most significant democratic reform of policing.

"Through the government's introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners, everyone now has a direct say in how policing is delivered in their area and ultimately, it is the public who will decide how well PCCs have performed - at the ballot box."

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