Well, what a very busy time we have had! As the APA Portfolio holder for National Events, I was busy helping to organise and support the APA Transition to PCCs Seminar in Coventry, with speakers from all part of the police world - APA, APACE, HMIC, ACPO, NPIA and even from Police Minister himself, Nick Herbert.
The following week saw me at the Home Office on three occasions. (Going up and down to London every day is shattering and those people who do it on a daily basis have my admiration for their undoubted stamina). My first meeting was in my role as a Governor of the Police Leadership College, at a regular Board meeting of that body, but the talk that day was heavily geared towards a discussion around a future Police Professional body (PPB), in place of ACPO and the NPIA. The NPIA is due to be phased out by the end of next year and many of its functions will be taken over by this new body, so time is of the essence here.
In the light of that meeting, the next day saw me again in the capital discussing with APA colleagues how best to set up a professional reference body that will enable us to input into the form, scale and scope of the new PPB. The APA represents the 43 Police Authorities of England and Wales and it is important that all local bodies have their say in influencing what is decided nationally.
Thursday was a really miserable day, windy and wet, so another visit to the Home Office was not a particularly attractive one, but went I did to represent not only the APA but Kent as well. This was a meeting to discuss the formulation of a national, police ICT procurement unit. Instinctively this makes sense - the buying power of such a national body could be immense - but we are very good at joint procurement here in Kent through our collaboration with Essex and now with other forces over ICT arrangements. I am not sure what this body would mean for us, but it is early days and I am always very open minded towards anything that gives better value for money for us. So, I have asked the Home Office officials who are driving this forward to come and speak to the Authority and Force at our February Police Authority meeting , to tell us more about their thinking and their Business Case for such a new company. I did have a smile to myself though because the headline in virtually every newspaper that day was around the millions of pounds wasted on a national NHS computer records system that is not fit for purpose!
The highlight of the week though was the appointment of a new Assistant Chief Constable here in Kent. The KPA Selection Panel, assisted by our Chief Constable, interviewed two very good candidates for the position and offered it to Paul Brandon, a Kent officer who has been doing the job on a temporary basis for about a year now. He has certainly grown into job and is very ready to step up to the substantive position. So, good luck Paul. We expect great things from you!
Also, as usual, there was the usual "housekeeping" stuff to do, the business as usual - letters to write, reports to read, papers to draft, meetings to go to and we also had HMIC down for our Support and Challenge inspection - we have so many inspections that it is easy to forget which one you are in sometimes! This one was an independent look at how well placed, or not - we are to meet our budgetary requirements in order to make the savings we must make to balance the books. Well, the taxpayers of Kent and Medway can rest assured that all is well here and, thanks to the very hard work of both the Police Authority and the Force, I expect nothing less than a clean bill of health from the Inspectorate when we get their report in due course.
The week ended on a lovely note. Friday was a glorious day, bright and sunny and I spent it with the Chief Constable, at the 550 year Anniversary celebrations of the Sheriff of Canterbury. We joined a procession from the Tower House in Canterbury to St Peter's Church for a service of thanksgiving. I loved the hymns we sang - "Jerusalem", which we had at my daughter's recent wedding and "I Vow To Thee My Country". The two police officers who flanked me sang with gusto, if not tunefully, and it was a very nice end to a very busy week.
Before I sign off though, I thought readers of this blog, before they are driven totally mad, might find this useful:
APA Association of Police Authorities
NPIA National Police Improvement Agency
ACPO Association of Chief Police Officers
HMIC Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies
APACE Association of Police Authority Chief Executives
PPB Police Professional Body