Police Minister, Nick Herbert tells us that he considers Tom Winsor is much the best person to take over as Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary. Home Sec, Theresa May agrees with him. I spent an hour with Mr Winsor a few days ago and there is no doubt that he is a confident and competent man. I didn't agree with every answer he gave but it was clear that he had thought everything through, and was not willing to back down or be bullied by MPs - especially Conservative MPs.
But the Police Federation do not accept that anyone who has not been out on the streets as a serving officer can possible do this job. Its worth repeating a statement that Chair, Paul McKeever has put out - which seems to be an attempt to 'veto' the Home Sec's prefered candidate, and have one of their own given the job instead.
The role of HMIC is one of the most important in policing. The HMIC provides advice on policing matters to the Home Sec. and if ever there was a need for sagacious advice from someone with a profound understanding of policing, it is now. We warned the Home Sec there would be riots, crime would rise, and that 20% cuts would have a detrimental effect on the policing front line, putting public safety at risk, and we were called scaremongers. We look forward to hearing from the Home Sec how the appointment of Tom Winsor provides the profound understanding of policing that is so important for public safety."
Must admit I do not remember the warning about riots - but let this pass. Neither do I recall warnings that the previous Gov't was spending so much public money that major reductions would be inevitable - but let that pass as well. The reality is that the Conservative Party, in its manifesto, and later the Coalition Government promised to reform the police force and make it more 'accountable' to the public. Its true that in general the Police do not like this, but that's democracy. Seems to me that the appointment of Tom Winsor is a statement of intent by the Home Sec. that she will not forced into a U-turn on police reform. There's going to be a bit of a rumpus over this I suspect.