The term of the Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton is in its twilight phase with his indication some time ago that he will not be seeking to extend his contract.
His current contract expires on the 30th June 2020 and it is therefore not improper that we should reflect on just who should lead this once proud organisation back to the fore of policing in this country and achieve the safety and the confidence to which the people of this State are entitled.
The role of the Chief Commissioner is one of the most important roles in our society and it can be argued that in recent history the selection process has not gone well.
During that time we have had incompetent through to adequate Chief Commissioners, some handed the poisonous chalice of their predecessors failings but the appointment of a Chief Commissioner who is a true leader, as the role requires, has not been evident for a very long time. Particularly so in the eyes of the many serving members who have contacted us complaining of the lack of leadership.
The organisation has grown as has the community it serves and for all the brouhaha about things being different, when, in reality, they remain the same and the principles of policing remain constant.
We have the enigma of the Victoria Police Corporate Advisory Group (CAG) whom we assume perform some sort of executive function like a Board of Directors but given the Governance failures, particularly with personnel and we suspect fiscal, that we are currently looking at, their function needs to be brought into question.
We raise the CAG because we believe they perform the selection process or play a significant part in the selection of the Chief Commissioner, and, to that end, their performance to date has been lamentable.
The selection of the Chief Commissioner cannot be left to a group of faceless individuals accountable to no one. It is arguable that we the citizens of Victoria are the shareholders to which this Board should be onejav accountable. We are considering highlighting who these faceless people are so they can be judged accordingly.
The solution to achieving the best outcome is the establishment of a Parliamentary all-party committee to make the selection. Removing partisan politics, irrespective of the Government of the day, is critical to restoring confidence in the appointment and this will remove any suggestion of political bias from the shoulders of the appointee.
This will serve to benefit whoever is in Government as the responsibility for Policing will be fairly placed at the feet of the Chief Commissioner and with the selection criteria made public, the community has something to measure the Chief Commissioner’s performance against.
The list of qualities in our view that should be possessed by the new Chief Commissioner are;
• Personal integrity of the highest order.
• Demonstrated leadership skills as opposed to potential skills.
• Must have served or is serving in the Victoria Police.
• Demonstrated compassion and empathy for those suffering.
• Be prepared to Police for all Victorians and refrain from giving preferential treatment or attention to individual groups of Victorians. Gaining an understanding of all groups irrespective of their bent is however a sound Policing principle.
• A detailed understanding of the “Peelian” principles of policing and substantial experience in the application of these principles.
• Have an understanding and preparedness to ensure that Victoria Police and any agents acting on behalf of Victoria Police introduce and abide by the ‘Model Litigant’ rules as are required but hitherto compliance has been problematic at best. Applying these rules to all litigations without exception.
• Understand the importance of eliminating systems like the inhumane ’Judicial Personnel Management’ strategies and develop a fair and sound process for terminating Police.
• A detailed knowledge of corporate governance.
• Have an understanding of the fiscal responsibilities and processes for the organisation.
• Have not been closely associated with any political entity or pressure group, special interest group or association.
• Have a strong commitment to equality of the workforce.
• Modify the workforce to reward competence rather than other ideological drivers.
• Be open to but not dictated by reform.
• Capable of managing diverse cultural and social variables within and outside the organisation.
• Tertiary education is desirable but not essential.
• Very strong knowledge and understanding of the legislation applicable to policing but not necessarily be a lawyer.
• An understanding and respect for the media but demonstrating the ability not to be managed by it.
• Be a strong advocate for free speech within the context of the Law.
• Be a strong advocate of freedom of lawful association or to lawfully demonstrate.
• Demonstrated compassion as well as determination and strength of character.
• The ability to apply these principles to the function of Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police.
The real challenge for the selectors is that by default the current executive officers would be automatically precluded because they form part of the problems facing Victoria Police today. Lack of confidence by the community and police members is unlikely to recover if one of the existing parts to the problem are selected.
Doing the same thing tomorrow expecting a different result just does not happen in real-world situations and a good follower does not necessarily make a good leader.
One may wonder where this person is today? They may be in or outside the organisation and as gender or age are not barriers, the field is really wide open.
The new Chief may well be a current serving Inspector or above or somebody who has previously served but achieved or built upon the above attributes external to Victoria Police.
The person will probably need an ultra-ego as a Caped crusader but they will be there, it is just a matter of finding them.