This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The 'Thames Valley Policing & Crime Scrutiny Network'

The new law that gifted us Police & Crime Commissioners also brought in Police & Crime Panels. The Home Office website states:
Panels are being introduced in each force area to examine the actions and decisions of each PCC. These panels will make sure information is available for the public so that they can hold their PCC to account.
They sound wonderful....

But just as we always have to wonder "qui custodit custodibus" (who guards the guards...?), one also has to wonder who will monitor the PCPs for how well they carry out their job?

The Thames Valley PCP met on September 14 which I believe was their second or possibly third meeting. Information about the Panel can be found here. You can find out who attended the meeting here. There is one co-opted member listed and this person was present. 2 of the 6 officers listed were present (some were 'expected'). 8 of the 17 elected members were present...

This does not bode well. (I am told that at the meeting in October, there were only 6 members present and 3 of those left early, but I cannot confirm this as yet.)

So how effective is the PCP in Thames Valley (and elsewhere) going to be? If attendance at meetings is any measure, not so good. But more critically, if a Conservative PCC is elected and the PCP remains dominated by Conservative councillors (as it is at present) how much rigorous scrutiny will there be of the PCC performing his/her functions?

What do you think? (Cynical me is not expecting much...)

So, as an antidote to this possibly parlous state of affairs, I would like to initiate the Thames Valley Policing and Crime Scrutiny Network. Not the snappiest of titles I know (other suggestions welcome) but its purpose is clear. My vision is for this network to hold both the PCP and the PCC to account for their actions.

The network will be open to people of all political persuasions (and none) who wish to engage in the process of examining the performance of the PCC & PCP. Membership will also be open to the spouses, friends and representatives of police officers (who are otherwise prohibited from partaking in political activity). It will be open, of course, to trade unions and police staff members who are not so restricted. It will probably 'meet' virtually lots and face to face as often as required. Anonymous contributors will also be allowed.

So if you would like to get involved, please email me and I will create a confidential list. I will be in touch post 15/11 where we can consider what to do next... 

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