Police and Crime Commissioner scheme 'on probation' following report

5:21pm Tuesday 6th May 2014

By Kate Wilson

ACCORDING to Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner a report which criticises the role nationally does not apply in the county

The Home Affairs Select Committee said in the report that the concept of police and crime commissioners is still ‘on probation’.

The committee concluded that it is still ‘too early’ to determine whether the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners has been a success after low election turnouts and the fact that some commissioners have ‘fallen well short of the public’s expectations’.

Gloucestershire’s PCC Martin Surl welcomed the timing of the report which has been published 18 months after commissioners were first elected as a replacement to police authorities.

“I’m pleased to say that the examples put forward by the committee as areas for concern do not apply here where the police, criminal justice services, community and voluntary sectors and myself are all working hard together to reduce crime and make the county a better place to live.

“Setting up a brand new structure was never going to be straight forward especially at a time of falling budgets, but it’s going well and I never thought it was going to be easy anyway.”

The report recommended a number of reforms to the role including strengthening the role of police and crime panels as well as training for new commissioners before taking office.

There was also calls for deputies to be elected on the ballot paper alongside commissioners in order for the process to be more ‘transparent and instil public confidence’.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz MP said: “The concept of police and crime commissioners is still very much on probation.

“Some Commissioners have fallen well short of the public's expectations and urgent reforms are needed to ensure that this concept does not put at risk public trust and engagement in the police, the very objectives for which PCCs were brought in.

“The hiring of deputies and the decision to remove chief constables are critical decisions for local communities and it is vital that the amount of the scrutiny applied to commissioners by police and crime panels increases.

“Panels’ powers must be strengthened and extended to ensure that any decision to remove a chief constable is the right one for the public.

“Only this will provide full public confidence.

“Deputies should not be cronies that are given their job on the basis of nepotism.

“By electing them on the same ticket we ensure that the public will be able to have their say on someone who often acts with the powers of the commissioner.

“Though we welcome good working relationships between chief constables and PCCs, the arrangement should never be too cosy.

“The setting of targets by PCCs must not promote the manipulation of crime figures and all PCCs should review their auditing arrangements immediately.”


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