NEWS COMMENT: Self-confidence is one thing but gaining votes is quite another

Michael Lane
Michael Lane
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While Hampshire’s police officers are being asked whether they are confident in the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, the man himself is far from lacking in self-confidence.

Having previously been knocked back by watchdogs when he tried to increase the budget for his own office while pursuing cuts elsewhere, Mr Lane is clearly proud of his record and intent to carry on with business as usual.

He has had a turbulent time in office since his election in May 2016.

Mr Lane took the helm at a time when police were facing budget constraints and difficult decisions had to be made, so it was never going to be an easy ride.

His appointed deputy quit after just two months in the job, and there were questions over the rising costs of a new IT system.

By the end of 2017 he was asking whether people would be prepared to pay more council tax to plug a £10m shortfall in police budgets.

But he was dealt a blow in January this year when the Police and Crime Panel, the body which holds Mr Lane to account, refused to back his budget, demanding £440,000 earmarked for his ‘essential staff’ and £700,000 on commissioning go instead on frontline policing.

While the cash is now being held in reserves, it’s understood the panel will privately meet Mr Lane next week to thrash out a resolution.

Mr Lane, meanwhile, is defiant, and brushed off the confidence vote by saying the only vote that mattered to him would be the public vote when his term of office ends in 2020.

Whatever the outcome of the police vote, whatever effect it might have, Mr Lane is right to remember that he remains an elected official, and that, by whatever means, his time in office may be limited.