Lancashire police boss reveals why he is voting to axe his own job

Cuts: Clive Grunshaw and Chief Constable Steve Finnigan ponder more economies
Cuts: Clive Grunshaw and Chief Constable Steve Finnigan ponder more economies
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CLIVE Grunshaw is hoping he isn’t a turkey voting for Christmas.

The Labour Party has vowed to scrap Police and Crime Commissioners if it wins the general election in May.

And, being a Labour man through and through, Lancashire’s PCC will be doing his best to bring an end to the Cameron/Clegg coalition, knowing he could be putting his own £85,000-a-year job in jeopardy.

“I love what I’m doing – and I’d love to continue doing it in the future,” said the former councillor. “But the bigger picture is the country needs a Labour government.

“Whether that means I’ll be out of a job or not, who knows? But I happen to think the work I do will continue.”

Ex-county councillor Grunshaw is one of 13 Labour PCCs in a total of 41 across England and Wales. The posts were created in November 2012 after the Tories scrapped independent police authorities which had been running forces since 1964.

But Ed Miliband believes PCCs are unaccountable. Former Met Commissioner Lord Stevens has called the system “flawed.” And Labour says they will be chopped in favour of police boards if it snatches power in May. Yet, after meeting with fellow Labour PCCs, Mr Grunshaw is convinced commissioners may still have a role to play in Miliband’s new system.

“If there is a change of government then there will be a change in the role of PCCs,” he told the Evening Post. “It’s about evolution in many ways.

“As I see it Labour will be proposing to replace us with a board made up of leaders from local government, but with someone above that board, like a PCC, to hold the police and the Chief Constable to account.

“So I believe the work that we do will continue, whichever party is in government – just in a different way. There will be a role for people like a PCC, although the terminology will be different.

“We will have to wait and see exactly how that will be. But I will work with a new Labour government to make sure that we don’t lose the good work we are achieving as PCCs.”

Commissioner Grunshaw has had a “challenging” time since being elected in Lancashire for a four-year term just over two years ago.

For the first half of his tenure he laboured under a dark cloud following an investigation into his expenses when he was a county councillor and police authority member.

It is now a year since he was cleared of any wrongdoing. But the past 12 months have been far from plain sailing, with shrinking budgets and the Commissioner reaching mid-term already having abandoned his Docklands offices and axed his second in command and three assistants in a radical restructuring of his department.

“The reorganisation has been a real positive and helped us to reshape the office in the way it needed to be,” he explained. “We have faced challenges over the last two years and we needed to make sure we have the right structure.

“We are now operating with fewer staff and there has been a cost saving. But it wasn’t driven by saving money, it was about being fit for purpose.

“This job is demanding. But it’s a great job in the sense that you feel you can influence decisions to make a difference to people’s lives.

“The frustration has really been around the budget. We listen to what the police’s priorities are and it’s difficult to deliver in the way we would like when the goalposts are constantly moving over budgets.

“Still, I think we have made significant progress on many fronts and our recent inspection report proved that. To be assessed as amongst the best-performing forces in the country makes us believe we are making the right decisions.

“People are coming to Lancashire from other forces to look at how we do things here and that is massively reassuring.

“The past year has been a good one. The shape of our office is right now, the force is doing some really innovative things and we are making progress in what we deliver for the public.

“It is just tainted a little by our frustration over the budget. We would like to re-invest some of our savings into the force to make things better, but we can’t do that when we are constantly fire-fighting.”