This week Prime Minister, David Cameron, said Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Ann Barnes, had ‘failed to impress’ in her role.
This is a sentiment I would agree with. The job of being Police and Crime Commissioner is a difficult one and I think we can all accept that mistakes can happen. It is, though, more worrying when those mistakes have typified her time in the role. As well as a misjudged appearance in a Channel 4 TV documentary, she has recently lost two Youth Commissioners and hit the headlines for spending £150,000 on new offices.
In November 2012, Mrs Barnes was elected to the role in Kent as an independent candidate with 65% of the vote. At the time she said she would be ‘out and about’ talking to people and creating a policing and crime plan. Less than two years into the job and she has been dogged by negative headlines which are detracting from the hard work of her officers.
It is the reputation of Kent Police and its dedicated staff that is suffering and being let down by its own Commissioner. I have a lot of respect for Kent Police. I have witnessed first-hand the highly professional way its officers carry out their work in Dartford. We all therefore want a Commissioner that enhances their good reputation.
Right around the country and indeed the world, elected commissioners carry out excellent work in providing an accountable link between local residents and the police. The policy is right but we need good people doing the job.
Her passage has not been the smoothest, but I hope she will improve the situation and make her officers proud of their Commissioner.