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Meet the Commissioner, Channel 4 documentary on Kent's PCC

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Meet the Commissioner, Channel 4 documentary on Kent's PCC

Post by falkor » Fri May 30, 2014 5:55 pm

[ external image ] Kent's Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes
By Ceri Radford 10:02PM BST 29 May 2014
The opening scenes of last night’s Meet the Police Commissioner (Channel 4), a fly-on-the-wall documentary about Kent police’s inaugural elected chief, were a masterclass in mischievous editing. We heard David Cameron’s soaring rhetoric announcing the policy in 2012, and then we saw an official reading a book and eating a Cornish pasty in an empty polling station, as the British public struggled to muster much enthusiasm for this bold experiment in local democracy.

At the time, Fraser Nelson wrote in this newspaper that electing commissioners was a good idea, but so poorly executed it had turned into something akin to Wacky Races. His words took on a literal resonance as we saw Ann Barnes, the commissioner of this programme’s title, patrolling her county in a customised “Ann Force One” minibus and failing to explain a diagram of Kent policing known as “the onion”. No stranger to public gaffes, the retired schoolteacher is best known for hiring a 17-year-old “youth commissioner” – who promptly imploded amid a media firestorm when it emerged she’d posted homophobic, racist slurs on Twitter.

Strangely, the documentary barely touched on this saga. It did shed light on the affair in a more oblique way, though. It emerged the Commissioner ran a staff of 16, including communications officers; none of whom, it seemed, had thought to vet the teenager’s Twitter profile before she was thrust into the spotlight – or indeed warn Barnes not to paint her nails at her desk while being filmed for a documentary justifying her role.
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Re: Meet the Commissioner, Channel 4 documentary on Kent's P

Post by powdermonkey » Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:57 am

I finally got around to watching this programme and thought was car crash TV. It was awful - you know you shouldn't be looking but you couldn't tear your eyes away.
Anne Barnes came across very poorly. She had no idea of policing, struggled to understand budget figures, didn't respond properly to well documented concerns regarding a rural community wanting a police presence and seemed more concerned with how to polish her image & spin news. Her analogies were awful, ill thought out and embarrassing. Her presentation skills at meetings were clumsy, to put it politely.
A telling comment was about referendums. "You don't hold a referendum unless you know you'll win". The last time I heard a similar remark was from the TV series "Yes, Minister". Call me naïve, but isn't the purpose of the referendum to find out public opinion?
There may have been some selective editing but I'm assuming that Anne Barnes & her staff were allowed to see the footage before it was broadcast. She certainly has enough communications & media staff to be able to determine if the programme was fair or not.
I am a bit surprised that the PCC can, in effect, make up the job description as they go along, I would have thought that there'd be some guidelines or framework but, Anne Barnes must have know that when she decided to run for the role so can't complain now.
I suppose only time will tell if PCC's have been an improvement on the old police authorities and f they have been cost effective. Given the poor electoral turn out (was it 15% or less?) I think that more work needs to be done to convince the public that they're a good idea.
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Re: Meet the Commissioner, Channel 4 documentary on Kent's P

Post by falkor » Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:19 pm

powdermonkey I acknowledge your point of view and am loathe to disagree HOWEVER

Before there were PCCs there were Police Authorities. Anne Barnes was Chairman of the Kent Police Authority just before being elected as Kent PCC, so in my book she is admirably qualified for the job just on that score alone! :slhi:

Barnes is facing £20 Million cuts in her Police Force but why focus on her? She is not to blame for the £20 Million of cuts! She is just the one who has to deal with the cuts, she did not ask for them!!

Her heart is in the right place, she is honest, has integrity and courage. I watched the entire programme and by the end of it I was feeling a great deal of empathy for the woman. Did she address all the issues presented in the TV programme ? No :slzz2:

She did not, but she is doing her best, that is clear to me. In one part of the TV Programme we see a town plagued by Burglars, so why did she not announce a BURGLARY SQUAD? Just do whatever it takes to hunt down the burglars and bring them to justice? Take a dozen of the best PCs or DCs off whatever they're doing and you have a Burglary Squad, which given marvellous leadership by a top Sergeant, or DI would achieve amazing results I am sure.

Why her senior officers could not tell her that I don't know, I am damn sure that some of them must surely have worked on a Burglary Squad in the past and know the merits, anyway apart from that, the criticisms of her and her efforts have been grossly exaggerated in my book. She told the camera crew that "in her village" she once had a police station but these simply cannot continue as they don't have the 'bodies on the books,' so that is the reason why so many police stations have closed, insufficient manpower! So now we know!

All in all though she is doing a good enough job, the TV Programme enjoyed her mistakes and showed that she made mistakes OK! who hasn't made a mistake in their career? I'd vote for her - she's not that bad! :slzip:

:slluvv: TV PROGRAMME ON CATCH UP RIGHT HERE :slsm:
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Re: Meet the Commissioner, Channel 4 documentary on Kent's P

Post by powdermonkey » Fri Jun 06, 2014 3:08 pm

Fair points, falkor, and I must admit that I hadn't realised she had been on the police authority. I don't remember the programme saying that - I just got the impression that she was a retired school teacher who suddenly decided she'd run for PCC using her £50K savings (where on Earth did she teach to get that kind of money. I want that job!!). In a way, her previous experience makes it worse; her not knowing her job title, that stupid thing with the "onion", bringing her dogs to work. The programme portrayed her as quite bumbling and gaffe prone but she did herself no favours. She's getting paid £85K so I'd expect someone a little more on the ball.

I did admire the way she openly told people that there weren't enough "bodies on the books"; the public need to realise that cuts in budgets and staff come hand in hand with cuts in service. I'm fed up of hearing mealy mouthed phrases such as downsizing - tell it like it is and I think the public will respect us for doing so. It's the squirming and hiding behind almost meaningless phrases that annoys them. One thing I particularly liked about her, and it may seem minor, was her choice of a minibus for transport, rather than a flash car. I think that speaks volumes about her awareness of public perception.

I certainly agree with your comments about her courage and I still agree with them about her honesty and integrity, despite what I still feel were somewhat underhand things - the spin regarding a referendum and trying to increase the council tax without the public realising.

I think she could best help the public of Kent by fighting the cuts and trying to maintain, if not increase, staffing levels i.e. front line police & PCSO's. It's also her job to challenge the Chief Constable if crime figures rise. That's where I think her strengths etc are. It's not for her to come up with strategy or tactics, she just hasn't got the knowledge or experience, which was shown by the mobile police station near burglary scenes. It was only there for one hour and you and I know that a static portacabin outside a house that's been burgled, for one hour, isn't going to deter sticky fingered idiots.

I realise that you live a lot closer to where Anne Barnes works than I do and you therefore have a lot more knowledge regarding her . I wish her previous experience had been highlighted in the programme. It feels somewhat of a hatchet job on her (they skimmed over the Youth Commissioner bungles) and I'm surprised she didn't ask for more balance. She came across as amateurish which, from what you say, she certainly isn't.
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