CHRIS MANN: Cambridgeshire Police Authority have made a special video on YouTube to mark 100 days to go until the election for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s first Police and Crime Commissioner. In November people will be able to choose who they will hold to account .. for the services provided. Ruth Rogers is the Chair of Cambridgeshire Police Authority. So. You’re trying to get people interested in something that frankly up to now they’ve shown little interest in.
RUTH ROGERS: Yes. This is a completely new election of course. It’s not something that any of us will have voted for before.
CHRIS MANN: Or asked for even.
RUTH ROGERS: The Government was very keen. They were absolutely certain that there was lots of support for this idea that people wanted to have somebody that they could hold to account through the ballot box. So that’s the purpose of this, that people will be able to hold this person to account by electing them, or not electing them in years to come, if they feel that they haven’t performed properly.
CHRIS MANN: They really have handed you a bit of a dud here Ruth. They say it’s going to be a popular idea. Now you’ve got to get people interested in it. I don’t sense a huge clamour out there for people to have yet another election for yet another public servant to be paid .. how much is it?
RUTH ROGERS: In Cambridgeshire the specified salary, which is set by the Home Office, is £70,000.
CHRIS MANN: Goodness me. Have you detected a great groundswell?
RUTH ROGERS: I think it’s early days. I really would implore your listeners to go out and vote on 15th November. It is a new election. I understand that it’s something that .. it’s not easy for people to get their heads around this. But this person will be holding the Chief Constable to account for delivering good policing in Cambridgeshire and for the people of Cambridgeshire. It’s important stuff. It’s stuff that matters to us all. If we get it wrong, then we know about it.
CHRIS MANN: You’re doing that right now, aren’t you, on the Police Authority? You’re the guys that do it. Are you not doing a good job Ruth?
RUTH ROGERS: The Government didn’t think so. Let’s put it that way.
CHRIS MANN: Well what do you think? What do you think Ruth?
RUTH ROGERS: I think that there’s lots of things that we’ve done that have been really effective. I think our track record show that for itself. But I think what we’re leaving .. this is law. This has gone through. It’s legislation. That’s what will happen.
CHRIS MANN: I understand that. If you wouldn’t mind. I’d just like to ask, you think you’ve done a good job. A lot of people think the Police Authority is a good way of running things. So do you think it’s necessary to change? Or do you think it would be quite sensible to carry on as we are at the moment?
RUTH ROGERS: I suppose .. would it have been my choice? No it wouldn’t. But then of course you could say that I’m a turkey, and I’m not going to vote for Christmas. I would be voting for my own abolition.
CHRIS MANN: It’s November, so I suppose it’s Guy Fawkes. (THEY LAUGH) Whatever. But .. so, there is change, whether we like it or not. You’ve posted a video on YouTube. Tell us what’s on it.
RUTH ROGERS: It gives you .. anybody actually .. people who are interested in standing potentially as candidates, people who are going to vote in the election, a bit of an idea of some of the things that the Commissioner will face in the early days. Because they’ll have to produce a Police and Crime Plan, which will show how they’re going to spend the money, which is the best part of £130 million in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. How they’re going to spend that to produce the best and most effective policing that they can.
CHRIS MANN: One of the things on the list of what this job is going to be about is, hold the Chief Constable to account. Hire and if necessary dismiss, in brackets. Really?
RUTH ROGERS: Indeed. That is something the Police Authority does. Certainly the appointment, and this Police Authority appointed the Chief Constable. They could also fire.
CHRIS MANN: I’ve got an idea Ruth.
RUTH ROGERS: Yes?
CHRIS MANN: You’ve been doing quite a good job running the Police Authority, in some people’s view. Obviously I’m impartial. Why don’t you stand for it?
RUTH ROGERS: I’m not. I’m not.
CHRIS MANN: But why not?
RUTH ROGERS: I’m not Chris. There are ..
CHRIS MANN: Would you like .. is it a job that you would like to do, you think you could do well?
RUTH ROGERS: I put myself forward as a potential candidate for the Labour Party.
CHRIS MANN: And you weren’t accepted.
RUTH ROGERS: It was a vote of the members, and a fair and democratic vote.
CHRIS MANN: Ok.
RUTH ROGERS: And it went to somebody else, and that’s absolutely fine. It’s how democracy works.
CHRIS MANN: Tell me Ruth, do you think it’s necessary to pay someone over £70,000 to do this job?
RUTH ROGERS: It’s going to be a powerful job Chris. I do have a belief that if you’re going to get somebody to do an important job, then you have to recognise what that involves.
CHRIS MANN: Ok, but you do it at the moment for how much?
RUTH ROGERS: There are 17 of us, so of course between all of us it actually amounts to more than that of course.
CHRIS MANN: With your expenses. You don’t get paid.
RUTH ROGERS: We do. We do get what’s called a remuneration. And the remuneration for all members of the Police Authority, that councillors and lay members, which is just over £8,000 a year. Now if you’re thew Chair of a Committee, or a Vice Chair, then you get more than that. So my remuneration is just over £20,000, because I’m the Chair.
CHRIS MANN: Ok. But none of these people will be involved in it any more. All the people on the Police Authority who have got all this experience of being involved in the committee, and helping run the Police Authority, they’re not going to be needed any more. Is that right?
RUTH ROGERS: One of the people who .. the Conservative candidate who’s been selected in a democratic process in the Conservative Party has been a member of the Police Authority. And it may be that some current members of the Police Authority will sit on the Police and Crime Panel in the future. And the Police and Crime Panel will be the body that looks at what the Commissioner is doing between elections, and holds them to account if you like.
CHRIS MANN: Well this conversation has shown that we’re all learning things about this Ruth, which is the whole point of it. We’ve got until November to find out all of the bits and pieces.