As I wrote yesterday the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has been recently snubbed by the Home Secretary, as their President, Sir Hugh Orde attempts to bring some form of clarity to the relationship between the 41 Chief Constables and the elected Police and Crime Commissioners. It is clear that there are many politicians who find ACPO a very irritating organisation, it is accountable only to its members and there appear to be many examples of protectionism and self serving. Cleary this sort of behaviour can be frustrating for politicians who face re-selection via the ballot box every 4-5 years by you and I, and sees this mandate as placing them in a unique position to make decisions on behalf of the British population. The confidence that this mandate provides can lead to arrogance in a few cases and a lack of openness when it comes to working with any other group that has too much organisational strength. It is for this reason that they reject out of hand challenges by the professional bodies of people such as Doctors, Judges, Surveyors and Police Officers. They also dismiss approaches by trade organisations such as Unions.
Apart from Theresa May it is clear that another Conservative MP, Mark Reckless holds ACPO in low regard. Mark recently advised Hugh Orde in his context as a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee that Hugh who has just been re-elected as President of ACPO should use his two year tenure to close the organisation down. Mark wants to see an end to ACPO as he believes that the newly established College of Policing which is a broader and much more open body is the appropriate body through which senior Police Officers should engage with the Government. The view of ACPO is that both organisations are needed. Mark Reckless knows a lot about ACPO as he was one of the architects of the PCC policy and he is one of the few MPs who has served on a Police Authority.
The world that Mark Reckless would like to inhabit is one where the EU and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) play no part in the life of the UK. He believes that there is far too much regulation in business, transport and in banking. He also has a low regard for ACPO and one imagines his view on organisations such as Unions and Professional bodies is similarly negative if they attempt to flex their muscles in a manner that appears to challenge Parliamentary authority. Freedom and flexibility is vital in society and so too much power handed to such organisations is probably a bad thing. However the same applies to people such as Mark Reckless. It is clear that since 2008 effective banking regulation is something we did need. The line between chaos and freedom in a civilised society probably proves that some regulation and organisation is needed. For all their limitations, ACPO provides a useful basis for gauging the views of the senior operational management of all 41 police forces and avoids the reinvention of policies that can be easily adapted from a neighbouring force. Ultimately we need people who hold senior policing posts and senior parliamentary positions who can demonstrate a clear commitment to working together. Perhaps Mr Reckless (working on our behalf) has more to gain from cooperating with Hugh Orde than he has from trying to persuade him to close the office and go home!