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.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Local accountability?

Anthony Stansfeld was elected PCC for Thames Valley on a number of manifesto pledges. One of these pledges was:
If elected as the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony pledges:
- To maintain the balance between urban and rural policing.
When PCC Stansfeld made this pledge I wrote to Thames Valley Police to ask them (under FoI) what is the 'current' balance between urban and rural policing. I received their response back today:
This request is refused under Section 12(1) of the FOIA. Please see below for further detail.
And they go on to say (with my added highlights):
Section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act allows that public authorities do not have to comply with Section 1(1) of the Act if the cost of complying would exceed the appropriate limit.  It is Thames Valley Police general policy that should a request for information exceed the appropriate level then we will exercise our legal right not to respond but cases will be assessed individually to consider the implications. In this instance, Thames Valley Police does not record this data in a centralised format and would need to review a significant amount of records with reference to the resourcing of each officer to retrieve it It should be noted that this letter acts as a Refusal Notice under the Freedom of Information Act. 
So as of now, it is impossible to hold PCC Stansfeld to account for one of his five campaign pledges. I have just written to PCC Stansfeld for his response:
Dear PCC Stansfeld
Congratulations on being elected PCC for Thames Valley.
During your campaign, you made a pledge (number two of five: that you would ‘maintain the balance between urban and rural policing’. When this pledge was published, I wrote to Thames Valley Police asking them for a baseline value for the current balance. I received this reply (below) from them today, essentially saying that it would take too many resources to give me the actual figure.
Therefore, as you are now our elected PCC for Thames Valley and you made the pledge, I thought I should write to you with the same request. I am sure that you will wish to be held to account for achieving this pledge over your 3½ year term. With that in mind, please could I have the current value. 
Many thanks
Very best wishes
I am looking forward to his response...

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