Huge thanks to the folks who joined me for the session on elected Police and Crime Commissioners – including @demsoc, @Nickkeane, @SashaTayler and a some others who I don’t yet know on twitter.

I used the session to test and expand some work I have been doing on this which you can read about here.  Put simply I am proposing 4 principles for the PCC:

  1. The Office should own the Democracy
  2. Be open by default
  3. Create a space where the politician can listen to the relevant debate and connect with the public
  4. Use really good consultation tools to ensure that decisions are fact rather than media based

I pitched the session because of my increasing concern that there seems to be no conversation happening about the kind of democratic opportunity that the creation of the new PCCs will bring.  Now – I am fairly sure that someone in the Home Office is thinking about this – but not sure enough not to want to poke it with a big stick to try and get some wider debate happening.  I am going to redouble efforts to find the person who is doing this so please say if you know!  Without this wider debate I think the risk is that we end up with a mild adjustment to the current (failing) system rather than looking at this as the chance to create a democratic structure that is going to be relevant and effective for the next 20 years.

My observations from the Police Authorities and Forces that I have been speaking to is that we have all been so certain it wouldn’t happen that we have failed to really engage with what it means.  However – thanks to the intervention of the folks in South Yorkshire I started to think about this and the session at GovCamp was a chance to test my thinking out on a group of informed and interested folks who as is always the case with the GovCamp crowd had some really useful observations:

  • Perhaps the biggest issue is not the structure but the fact that the public don’t understand what the role is and are not likely to turnout in great numbers to select the person.  The question of the validity of the mandate they will get is a very real one
  • There is an opportunity to reengage the public with the task of priority setting – its not all bad!
  • The Police and Crome Panels should be able to hold the democratic accountability but the risk is that they will be weak in the same was as the Police Authorities have often been perceived
  • I really need to read up about the US models which have influenced this approach and find out more about how they work
  • The boundaries of some of the forces are extremely unwieldily (the example used being Thames Valley) and this is not going to help the public feel as if this is a ‘local’ policing solution
  • There is a real question as to where the community engagement role will sit between the Force and the PCC – this is going to need to be faced head on
  • We need to remember that they have responsibility for Crime and not Just for Policing – and try and unpick what this means

So, I’m going to keep trying to find the person who (I hope) is thinking about this and I’m also going to follow up on some of the really useful suggestions that were made in the session with respect to people to speak to.  I’ll update here when we get a meeting sorted with somePolice Authorities (looks like March) and if I find that someone else has got this all in hand then I will also let you know…in the meantime will sharpen the big stick and keep poking this

I was at the excellent Policing 2.0 conference on Monday – big congratualation for the team for a very well planned and executed event – and especially for keeping the webcast participants involved as well – great job.  Here as promised are my slides from the event:

I focused on talking about the challenges that pressure from the network society brings for all of government and tried to frame this within the pressures of budget cuts – have a look and see how well I managed this.  I also trailed some research we are doing on Virtual Community Policing – I promise to blog properly on this once we have had the kick off meeting in a couple of weeks.

It was in interesting day all round with Gordon Scobie given us all context for the event and both him and Nick Keane talking about the fact that use of social media and new forms of engagement really seem to be getting traction with the Police and there are lots of examples of good practice now. As Gordon says, the trick will be to ensure that we keep momentum while the CSR reverberates around government.

It was also interesting to see the localism agenda as described by Cat Drew from the Home Office and a lot of the messages were very consistent with what I heard last week at Solace which is encouraging. I am increasingly feeling however that the dull but vital subject of boundaries may be the huge elephant in the room with all of this talk of Localism – are we able to define Local across all areas of Government consistently?

Star of the show was Kevin Hoy from Greater Manchester Police talking about their day of tweeting. Will not talk much about this as Andrew has covered this here but it was interesting to hear about the detailed nature of the planning undertaken – will be great to see what they come up with when they have actually analysed the data.

The presentation led to brief back channel chat about whether this project could be described as co-production. I think the final conclusion was a tentative yes, if we start to see the hashtag used independently to run a conversation without the Police being involved – or if you take Dave Briggs point that all 999 calls are co-produced anyway!!

Other good stuff included:

  • Really nice in-depth discussion of the use of Google tools by Nathalie Profitt, Head of New Media at Leicestershire Police.  My enjoyment of the content was only slightly marred by the fact that you constantly have to have in mind that Google’s goals with these tools are all profit orientated and you have to stay alert to make sure that you are not compromising your civic purpose – or in fact anyone’s privacy
  • Great session from Christine and Kate from Sussex Police on the success of webcasting recent public meetings
  • Good session from Amanda Neylon on the Met’s Crime reporting tool – nicely argued with proper cost savings involved as well

I greatly regretted not seeing the MyPolice demo or hearing from the famous @hotelalpha9 but such is the nature of parallel sessions – have heard good things about both of these.

Overall very useful – though the thing that I was musing about in the car on the way home was this place issue.  After weeks of listening to people at conferences talk about the Big Society in parallel its even more clear how much we need to start thinking either of true partnership working or about how we equip the local community to manage what will be increasingly complex relationships with the different parts of government who will want to engage with it.

Next up the CIPR conference and then I’m staying on the office for a bit…..and writing up that co-production stuff I promised ages ago.

 

 

I was lucky enough to speak at the National Police Web Managers Conference on Friday (slides below). It’s interesting to talk about digital engagement in a different public sector context and the Police are especially interesting because of the challenge that they face in trying to combine operational needs with engagement work. My view is that this really all comes down to good community policing – but with a need to realise that online communities are real and need policing too.

Its about how you start to create a sense of Police indentity online and start to use it both to Police and to engage. One of the best examples I have seen of this is hotelalpha9 on Twitter because he has created a very real online persona that is still very much a Police Officer – but there are of course loads of other good examples emerging. One of the ones from the conference was Sussex Police’s use of twitter during a recent rally in Brighton – hopefully those slides will also be shared. Anyway – I’m speaking at the ACPO conference next week and will post a longer piece after that as my head is very much in the area of thinking about online from a multi-agency perspective. Its odd to realise how vested in Local Government I have got and useful to think about these things in a different way.

One thing that is still very strong common theme for me is the need to start building this civic infrastructure online – like the community police officer – as our online lives become more significant. As I said at the event – the important thing to remember about these virtual spaces is that they are actually very real.

Unfortunately I had to leave without seeing a lot of the presentations – but as with all of the Police stuff I have been doing recently its interesting to see the difference that the absence of elected representatives (at the moment) makes to the engagement process.