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, December 18, 2012

Scrutiny with teeth?

Amidst all the concerns about PCCs appointing their mates to various deputy and interim positions, several people have raised questions about how much power the PCCs have. The Government's belief (as I understand it) is that the Police and Crime Panels will hold the PCC to account and be a public check on their power.

Below are the replies I have now received from the Thames Valley PCP in answer to my questions I posed them a few days ago. As you read through their answers... decide for yourself: is this a PCP with teeth that will be fearlessly challenge the PCC and the decisions he makes... or not?

1. How important is it to you that the PCP holds PCC Stansfeld to account for achieving the pledges on which he based his campaign?
The focus of the Panel is the fulfilment of its statutory duties. The Panel will have regard to the Commissioner’s election pledges whilst fulfilling those duties. 

2. If it is important, how will you be doing this, specifically, pledge by pledge?
Through question and answer sessions with the Commissioner in the Panel’s scheduled public meetings. 

3. From your perspective are matters relating to the deployment of police resources (temporarily or over a longer term) a matter for the Chief Constable’s operational discretion (informed by evidence and data no doubt) or is this a matter for the PCC? (PCC Stansfeld’s email seems to me to be saying both…)
This is a matter for the Commissioner and Chief Constable, the roles of whom are defined in the legislation.

4. Currently Thames Valley Police use a Resource Allocation Formula based upon Population 30%, Recorded Crime 35% and Incidents (excluding Crime and Admin) 35% (a matter I have blogged about in the past). Do you foresee the PCC having any authority over altering the nature of the existing formula?
Please refer to the response to your third question. 

5. If (say) Aylesbury Vale experienced an unforeseen and dramatic rise in rural crime (such as the rising incidence of the theft of agricultural vehicles), would you expect the PCC to react to this by asking the Chief Constable to allocate extra police officers and staff towards tackling this?
Again, please refer to the response to your third question; although regardless of what was agreed between the PCC and Chief Constable in respect to the deployment of resources, the Panel would take an interest in the Commissioner’s response to any situation that may require a temporary or permanent revision to the Police & Crime Plan.

6. As most of the PCP are councillors, do you see yourself as a body composed mostly of ‘political activists’?
The elected members of the Panel are appointed by their respective local authorities to the Panel, a body with specific statutory functions.

7. What view do you have of PCC Stansfeld’s last couple of sentences where he seems to me to say that he believes his only line of scrutiny is to the PCP and that I (as a resident, town councillor and member of a political party) am only entitled to ask him questions relating to ‘personal’ issues?
This is a matter you should pursue with PCC Stansfeld.

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