The Lancashire Hotpots and police and crime commissioners
A few posts ago we wrote about the pop video brought out in Lancashire to remind people about the elections for Police and Crime Commissioner elections in November.
A couple of weeks ago I spoke to Naomi Walker, head of community engagement at Lancashire Police Authority, where the video was dreamed up as parf of the Lancs PCC Be Part of It campaign. (See the LancsPCC website for more on the campaign. You’ll find the audio recording of my interview with Naomi in a fairly rough-and-ready MP3 file at the bottom of this post.
Lancashire PA is, like South Yorkshire (Joint Secretariat), Sussex and now many others, an authority that’s taking the advent of Police and Crime Commissioners seriously – and is working hard to ensure that people know about the PCCs and the changes they represent for policing.
Naomi told me that for Lancashire that started in 2010 and early 2011, when the Authority first commissioned research to look at the public’s interest and demands of a future Police and Crime Commissioner. The work helped them set out a strategy for communicating about the PCCs – and informing the public about what this fairly radical change in how policing is overseen would affect them.
That strategy has seen the Authority using social media (Twitter, Facebook and the YouTube videos) really creatively – as is borne out by their videos in particular. As Naomi points out in the interview, the key is using these new ways of communicating conversationally. And she puts considerable emphasis on being putting a point across in a way that resonates with the audience.
Here were some of the important, interesting points that Naomi made:-
- The Authority saw its role as informing the public about the PCCs – what they represent and what they can do.
- It looked ensure that the basic details of the election is understood – which is what the Hotpots’ video is all about.
- Naomi said that Lancashire looked to learn about the public’s attitude to the PCCs, doing this with proper independent research.
- The Authority set about informing the public about the PCCs – what they are and what they represent. This obviously concentrates on the fact that there is an election in the not-too-distant future.
- Social media is vital to the role of communication and engagement around the PCCs because it’s cheap, effective and offers flexibility.
- The Police Authority saw the advent of PCCs as an opportunity for the public, rather than as just the end of the authority. Naomi talks about that as the ‘democratic opportunity to vote an individual in who is going to be accountable to you and to oversee how Lancashire delivers its policing services.’ That’s a laudable approach whatever anyone might think of the pros and cons of the PCC reform itself.
- Naomi sees creativity as an important part of her job of delivering the message around the PCCs. The Hotpots video – and the other videos that they have created.
- The work and momentum that’s gone into creating the website and into the social media presences for the PCC won’t be lost because the research and the engagement can be used by the office of the PCC once that is in place.
- Naomi was very complimentary of the Home Office. She said that there is a recognition that it is a huge policy and there is a need to engage and communicate with the public. She said they are opening, listening and are open with how they can support the Authority.