So farewell then, Wendy Kinnard – who as of last week no longer blights Jersey with her political subterfuge and spectacular ministerial unfitness.
Hard as it is to beat the record of sheer incompetence which Trendy Wendy displayed in her political stewardship of La Moye Prison, Clameur de Haro? reckons that the ineptitude she displayed in political oversight of the Police during her tenure of office, firstly as Vice-President and then President of the old Home Affairs Committee, and subsequently as Minister of Home Affairs, comes pretty close.
Kinnard was closely involved in the disastrous recruitment of Graham Power as Chief of Police in 2000. Despite having no particular qualifications or expertise in any kind of candidate evaluation, interview, or selection, politicians always consider themselves to be somehow blessed with these skills, and the States’ records of the time reveal that Trendy Wendy, a politician not noticeably troubled by any detectable excess of modesty or doubt about her own intellect and abilities, and who would have considered herself eminently suited to participation in the selection process, was a member of the interviewing and appointment panel: it’s surely inconceivable that, as Vice-President of the Home Affairs Committee, she did not play a pivotal role in the appointment.
As CdeH? posted on 6 December, Mr Power, distinguished since his arrival in Jersey by nothing so much as a constant near-invisibility, had up to that time enjoyed a previous career most remarkable for, firstly, his attempt to sue the political authority of the Scottish Northern Constabulary for racial discrimination - on the grounds that he was English – when it (wisely in the opinion of CdeH?) passed him over for the role of Chief Officer, and, secondly, the quite extraordinary regard in which he was held by the rank-and-file rozzers in his previous post – so much so that they allegedly arranged his funeral for him - complete with vacant coffin.
It’s surely equally inconceivable that Kinnard did not play a similarly crucial role in the appointment of Lenny Harper to the post of Deputy Chief of Police in 2003, although by that time somebody, somewhere, no doubt aware of the way the wind might be blowing, had the foresight to involve Sir Ronnie Flanagan in the “rigorous assessment” of Harper’s fitness for the post following his recruitment as Chief Superintendent and Head of Operations the previous year. Whether that was indeed foresight, or alternatively precautionary political CYA tactics, is for the reader to judge in the light of subsequent events. CdeH? has certainly made his own judgement.
A reasonable subject for speculation though, is the extent to which Kinnard would have found Harper’s views on the nature of policing in a modern society most agreeable to her essentially leftist and so-called “progressive” politics: Harper, it will be recalled, had obtained an upper-second in Government and Politics, and gone on to secure a masters’ degree in Criminal Justice Studies.
Given the then cultural slant of degrees of that type, and their popularity among the new wave of senior police cadres committed more to the selectively managerialist and social-engineering philosophy of policing rather than to the crime-prevention / impartial law-enforcement one, it’s a very tenable proposition that his qualifications would have imbued Harper with many of the precepts of the political-correctness view of society and its approach to policing it: and that this would have chimed effectively with Kinnard’s own innate (but carefully concealed for public consumption) left-liberal radicalism.
Power, incidentally, sported his own MA in Politics, Philosophy & Economics obtained from Queens, Oxford, in 1979, which might well also have appealed to Trendy Wendy’s political worldview (you might have thought, might you not, that an aspiring senior copper would have wanted to acquire a graduate qualification in law or jurisprudence? - clearly a PPE was considered likely to be more in tune with the future zeitgeist).
The scene was therefore set for what was to follow.
Many, including CdeH?, remember the disturbing conduct of the police reinforcements imported from the UK around the time of the England-Portugal clash during the 2006 World Cup. After dramatically talking up a potential crisis (an early precursor, had we but realized it, of the Jersey Police management’s taste for the sensationalist press release), thereby increasing the likelihood of some kind of mayhem, the Police manifestly over-reacted, both to the implied threat of disorder (never likely to involve more than a couple of drunken yobs attempting ineffectively to indulge in handbags at ten paces), and to the little disturbance that did in fact occur.
Meanwhile, however, elderly ladies of impeccable behaviour and manners, seeking to do nothing more mayhem-generating than gain access to the Jersey Arts Centre, were subjected to frightening, intimidating, aggressive and threatening tactics from those UK reinforcements, gallantly arrayed in helmets, batons and riot shields (and why not?.......CdeH? recognizes that elderly ladies denied legitimate access to an arts centre were far more dangerous to public order than potential football hooligans, weren’t they?)
This was inescapably Kinnard’s responsibility. Of course, in no way should the head of any political authority charged with oversight of policing engage in political interference in the conduct of police operations: but to either passively allow or actively condone the introduction into Jersey of policing of methods of this kind was a failure of policy and oversight for which Kinnard must bear full blame.
The increasingly aggressive behaviour of the uniformed constabulary towards the public in general, and law-abiding motorists in particular, in the past few years is an unwelcome continuation of this trend. Clameur de Haro?, along with most of his acquaintance, believes this has much more to do with artificially massaging the Force’s published crime detection rate than it has to do with preventing general or car crime.
On more than one occasion, CdeH? has been stopped during the evening (when, it should be said, totally libation-free, stone-cold sober, in a car with all lights functioning perfectly, and nary a suspicion of anything remotely interpretable as even marginally erratic driving) and subjected to by turns surly and aggressive questioning. [“Looked as though your seat belt wasn’t on” was the most recent explanation proffered.] Remarkably however, when the plods are confronted with a reasonably articulate motorist who demands their names and numbers so that he can make a formal complaint about unjustified harassment, they back off.
This escalation of an intimidating style of general policing also happened on Trendy Wendy’s watch, politically. The supposition has to be that she tacitly approved, or, more likely, that she had so little idea of what political oversight of policing should involve that it didn’t occur to her to question what the constabulary’s general approach to the community it nominally serves should be, nor to require an explanation for what it manifestly is.
Finally, we come to the Haut de la Garenne imbroglio. If ever there was a case crying out above all for a calm, measured, unemotional, evidence-centric and supposition-free discharge of its responsibilities by the Jersey Police, this was surely it. Yet Harper, by this time either totally captured by, and an unwitting tool of, the agenda of the Kinnard-Syvret axis and their fellow-travellers, or signed up to that agenda of his own volition, was allowed over a long period of time to grandstand repeatedly with ill-informed speculation and value judgements to a media long on sensation-seeking but short on objectivity. A more egregious failure to exercise due political oversight of a police force is virtually impossible to imagine – the fault is that of Power’s at operational level, and at political level, that of Kinnard alone.
It seems unbelievable in retrospect that Kinnard should have been allowed anywhere near the April 2008 selection process for Warcup’s appointment to (mercifully) replace Harper, but that is what happened. Fortunately on this occasion, the beneficial influences of Messrs Liston, Ogley and Crich prevailed, or we might have had a Kinnard-driven extension of Harper’s contract.
What a disreputable litany of disaster this deplorable woman foisted on to the Island. It is immeasurably better for her departure.Add to del.icio.usDigg It!Stumble This