How to create a new bureaucracy in one easy lesson

This week we are asked to vote for our Police Commissioners or PCCs, so I started to dig into what this is all about. Sadly, I am now completely confused, so this blog is a desperate plea for enlightenment.

Whilst you may think this blog is going to be political, the message is actually a business one. At least that is the intention but so far I have only written 70 words or so.

I gather from what I have read that the idea behind all this is to bring policing closer to the people, make us feel safer and to give us more say. This may appear a good idea, but so far I can only see a lesson in how to create a new bureaucracy.

Let me use my area as an example. As an underpaid blogger I don’t have the resources to compare the 41 areas voting this week, so I am going to make the assumption that Sussex is an example for all (may the force be with you should that actually be true).

We have five candidates – four of these have had functions connected to the police for many years and obviously failed. Otherwise why would be need a Commissioner?

Four of the candidates are basically retired, and either are or have been Councillors. It would of course be very cynical to view this as an opportunity to boost one’s pension by around £100,000 per year.

The one exception to all this is a former business person – a ‘serial business builder’ according to her website. One slight challenge, I have not been able to figure out what businesses and how far the ‘building’ went, so no real information.  However, if you are a ‘serial business builder’, you must know that controlling costs is essential and this PCC stuff is all about increasing costs without measurable outcomes (remember SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).

What is going to happen? We are going to elect a commissioner in each of 41 areas, each on a salary of £100,000 plus. In addition they will need an office, a PA, some staff perhaps, a car, National Insurance, computers, tablets, mobile phones and travel expenses. Let’s call it £500,000 a year per person, probably double that. That is a total of £20 million in spend we do not have today.

What are we going to achieve for the £20 million? Bring policing closer to the people? As I pointed out before, 80% of the candidates were already involved, several as Councillors and they did not succeed then. How is increasing their salaries by £100,000 a year going to make that  better?

And then the Lord Blair question – what are they going to do? Well first they have to show they are busy, so they go talk to people. Most likely police people and most unlikely ‘the people’. Oh yes they will have public gatherings where they sit on a stage and talk at us and allow us to ask a question if we are lucky, but no, there will be no interaction between you and them.  So they will take away policing time. Another cost.

Then they will have to document the fact they are busy, hence the PA and the staff. Presto we have a new bureaucracy.

And then finally, at some point in the future, we will have an inquiry led by some prominent person into the achievements of the PCCs and we will file that, change their titles and continue with the new bureaucracy. After all, we will love it by then.

If there is one lesson to be learned from this – never ever do anything as wasteful as this in your business or you will end up as bankrupt as the government.

So please go out and vote on the 15th as Theresa May so desperately wants you to do. Otherwise there is a real risk that the turnout will be an embarrassment for the politicians. After all, your vote is going to be wasted whether you use it or not. That much is clear.

And finally, can anyone give me any evidence that this is a good idea in any way?

1 comment for “How to create a new bureaucracy in one easy lesson

  1. Mike Wort
    14 November, 2012 at 09:16

    Dear Dirk,

    You are much more organised than I am.

    We are Thames Valley, we have a polling card but have had no information whatsoever delivered to us, which I suppose is indicative of how getting closer to the people will work in practice. In order to get closer to the people we will be the ones have to do everything to get closer to this new bureaucracy.

    Seems like a waste of time and money, but I suppose it deflects our attention form getting the real job done??

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