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To Solihull and back!

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I have spent since Sunday evening in Solihull at the Association of Police Authorities Transition Conference which was all about getting ready for a seamless change from Police Authorities to Police and Crime Commissioners in November.

There is an awful lot of work going on locally and nationally and I was reassured that here in Kent we are at the forefront and I would expect nothing less.

Delegates from across the policing industry discussed topics but two issues seemed to come to the fore. The first one was about the commissioning duties of a Police and Crime Commissioner and was likened to an iceberg under the surface.

The post is not just about police accountability but with the added dimension of commissioning services over the whole of police and crime area - the hint is in the title of the post, commissioner.

Again, keeping ahead of the game, we are planning our second transition conference in late May and this will specifically cover commissioning and how a Police and Crime Commissioner might go about this. The budget for commissioning will be vast and we want to make sure Kent hits the ground running.

The second issue that was robustly discussed was around the debate that unlike mayoral or parliamentary elections, candidates will not be given a free mail drop for their campaign literature.

The electoral commission has been charged with writing to every household in the country to tell locals about the elections. Delegates discussed if the single drop could also be used to include candidates' election material as well - not spending anymore public money - but increasing public awareness and recognition of issues being highlighted by would be commissioners.

However, the argument against this was it would be drawing the independent electoral commission into political waters.

There will be a Home Office website containing all candidates' literature. If voters do not have access to a computer then they can write to the Home Office who will send hard copies of literature pertaining to the candidates standing in their policing area.

The journey home yesterday was colourful. On my train there was a foreign lady who needed to get from Euston to St Pancras to get to Ashford. She was quite confused so I took her under my wing. However, our train ended up being held up outside Ashford station as, seemingly, a Eurostar train had confused the signals and ended up on our platform instead of the designated Eurostar platform. My new friend must have wondered what on Earth was going on, but I hope she got to her final destination safe and sound.