The new man at the helm of West Midlands Police is already immersed in detailed policy just a week into his £100,000-a-year job, finds Local Government Correspondent Neil Elkes.
Like all Labour police and crime commissioners, Bob Jones has taken on a well-paid, high-profile job he would rather did not exist.
And, judging by the pitiful turnout at the ballot box, he’s not alone.
But an election winner is an election winner – even on the back of a 12 per cent West Midlands turnout in a scheme Labour opposed.
Mr Jones has hit the ground running, immediately scrapping bitterly-contested proposals to use private firms for some services.
The scheme had gone down like a lead balloon with the unions, and he had been among its critics before the election. But more contentious decisions lie ahead.
They include a shake-up of police stations and an ambition to give more responsibility to police community support officers (PCSOs).
So is there tension between the new man at the top and West Midlands Chief Constable Chris Sims to match that seen elsewhere?
In Avon and Somerset, Chief Constable Colin Port refused to re-apply for his job and the Suffolk and Essex forces must both appoint new top officers following the elections.
Not a bit of it, Mr Jones insisted, referring to cult 1980s TV show The Dukes of Hazzard to make his point.
“It’s a constructive relationship,” he said. “We have different roles. I can see occasions where we will have to resolve differences, perhaps where one of us is working in the interests of the community and the other is considering the interests of the police service.
“There will be discussions and debates.
“You don’t want a commissioner who is part of the police officers’ club.
“On the other hand, I don’t want to be like ‘Boss’ Hogg, where the politician has the police chief [the TV show’s Rosco P Coltrane] in his pocket.
“Neither model is good for the community.”
One of his first policy decisions will be a review of police stations and offices in a bid to make the best of police funding.
A number of leases on city and town centre bases are up for renewal in the months ahead, offering an opportunity to shed unnecessary buildings and cut costs.
Mr Jones said one town centre police station – which he refused to name – had out-of-date cell blocks and facilities and was almost certain to go.
But he said a replacement office, perhaps shared with other agencies, would be provided.
“Some old cell blocks are out-of-date,” he said.
“With larger, modern cells we can offer mental health support and other facilities. We can also offer better services by sharing with other agencies to help with issues like anti-social behaviour.”
But Mr Jones insisted he would not act without speaking to communities first, having bemoaned previous shake-ups which, he said, did not properly involve the public.
“The Police Authority didn’t cover itself in glory,” he admitted.
“There was consultation with the probation, criminal justice service and so on, but not with communities.”
He said he wanted to set up a network of local policing boards with community involvement from faith groups, residents’ associations and neighbourhood watch groups.
Mr Jones said: “We have to offer people real alternatives and genuine consultation: Do they want officers sitting behind a desk for several hours or out on the streets fighting crime?”
On the subject of bobbies on the beat, he said he would not consider giving PCSOs powers of arrest and detention, as some other forces have tried, as it would blur the distinction between police officers and those workers.
Instead, he said he wanted to see PCSOs and council-run civilian enforcement officers, formerly parking wardens, given greater powers to enforce moving traffic offences to take some of the pressure off police officers.
That decision lies with Mr Sims but Mr Jones said he would have an input.
“I do not see the point of giving PCSOs the powers of detention,” he said.
“We already complain that officers have too much paperwork and a good thing about PCSOs is that they are out on the streets.
“If they detain someone they would spend more time at the station and more time in the justice system.”
But he said he wanted to see traffic enforcement powers extended so that, as well as ticketing for parking on a double yellow line, council wardens could enforce parking on pavements.
“This would be useful in enforcing traffic regulations around schools and take the pressure of police officers,” he said.
“It also has the benefit that, if the council issues the penalty, the fine goes to them and stays in the local economy, rather than going to the Home Office.”
The former Wolverhampton councillor’s deputy is his ex-rival for the Labour nomination, Yvonne Mosquito.
She has agreed to give up her day job as Crisis Intervention Manager for the Community Advocacy Support and Advice centre in Balsall Heath to give greater attention to her new £65,000-a-year role.
But the Nechells Labour councillor refused to stand down from her £10,574 a year role as chairman of the Ladywood District Committee, despite being urged to do so by the region’s policing watchdog.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Panel, a committee of councillors set up to monitor Mr Jones, wanted her to devote herself full-time to the role.
Members also asked for a clear job description to be drawn up so they could rate her performance.
But Coun Mosquito said being an “active and engaged” councillor would help the fight against crime.
“Reducing crime requires close working between the police and local authority partners, and remaining an active and engaged councillor helps build and maintain these vital links,” she said.
“It also helps me hear what the public is saying and to reflect these issues in my policing role.”
Panel chairman Darren Cooper, the leader of Sandwell Council, said: “The Panel recommends this post should be full-time with no competing time requirements, such as holding additional office or undertaking further paid employment.
“This would not prevent Coun Mosquito from continuing to serve as an elected member on Birmingham City Council.”