A little while back, I challenged some 'research' done by the boffins over at the Taxpayers Alliance - a well-known Tory front group - about their belief that Police and Crime Commissioners would be cheaper than the existing police authorities. I pointed out that they were likely to be wrong.
And as sure as night follows day, it has come to pass.
Tim Fenton over at Zelo Street kindly linked to that post after he spotted that the TPA are now walking on the other side of the street, all the better to throw stones at the office that they supported. The media have, as usual, lapped up this press release without pointing out that the TPA used to be enthusiastic supporters of the idea. It appears that some PCCs are appointing additional staff - something that the legislation allows them to do. So far, fifteen of the 41 PCCs have appointed deputies, with more to come. The Conservative Northants PCC has appointed no fewer than four deputy commissioners and is seeking to appoint no fewer than seventeen additional staff members, so is the runaway candidate to be the first PCC to cost more than the police authority they replaced.
The West Midlands' Bob Jones appointed Cllr Yvonne Mosquito to the post of deputy commissioner. Over in West Mercia, Bill Longmore has appointed his campaign manager, a path also followed by the Northants PCC, Adam Simmonds. Up in Humberside, the Tory PCC has appointed a fellow Tory councillor to the post, as has the Tory PCC in the Thames Valley.
Now, there's nothing wrong with the PCC appointing staff. Hiring a deputy is entirely sensible - you can't expect the commissioner to be everywhere, in particular when the force area is particularly large, nor can they be expected not to take holidays, so a deputy makes eminent sense. In the future, it would make sense for candidates to name their deputy prior to the election (as both Labour's Bob Jones and the Tory Matt Bennett certainly did) so that they can be scrutinised by the electorate.
And above all, take any dodgy research from the TPA with industrial quantities of salt.