Archive for January, 2012

End of an era?

January 12, 2012

End of an era?
The last ever meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) was held this morning. I grilled the commissioner over Stephen Lawrence, independent community advice, the importance of a representative workforce and DV. As an Independent Member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, for 9 years I’ve been tweaking the tail of the police, leaning across and prodding them into action. I know things changed as a result of my presence and efforts. I know that on the whole my community and friends approved of what I was trying to do, even if they thought I was barking, and possibly wasting my time. Sometimes, I suspected I was, too.
The Con-Dem government is abolishing police authorities (bodies set to scrutinize police forces and consisting of politicians and independent members). Most will go in November when they’ve elected Police and Crime Commissioners. London has gone early because the Tories think the Mayor of London can fulfill that role.
Elected Police and crime Commissioners cannot do the level of holding to account that Police Authorities did. A lot of the work of the MPA was done by Independent members, Greater London Authority (GLA) members not having time because of all their other duties. In the first 8 years of its existence, it was Independent members who drove reviews and scrutinies into key important issues such as workforce Equality, Stop and Search and, mental health. Independent members drove forward the work of the domestic Violence and hate crime multi-agency fora. It was independent members who engaged in the detailed investigations of practices that led to key strategic organisation-wide change.
The current government’s mind set is for influence rather than regulation. Influencing is fine if all concerned are equal. It’s what “old boys’ network’s” do; it’s what the most articulate (probably middle class and white) communities find easy to do. Who will advocate for those at the margins, disenfranchised and without a voice? We have equality laws because it is the only way to make sure of some semblance of fairness – limited though law often is and notwithstanding all the usual lack of access to justice lots of people experience.
So I lose a position early that I enjoyed and am good at. I also lose a sizable chunk of income. This is not the climate to be a professional advisor in. It’s not the time to be a consultant, trainer and coach. It’s also the middle of the deepest recession we’ve had in many, many years. At a time when my natural clients (public bodies, not-for-profit sector etc) is being cut left right and centre, the future looks a bit grim, money and influence wise.
Kirsten Hearn (12th Jan, 2012)