In an article in Policinginsight Rachel Rogers provides would be voters with 20 questions to put to PCC candidates. Here are my answers in 20 blogs;
- What do you understand the key aspects of the police and crime commissioner’s role to be?
- How do you envisage that role changing over the next four years?
- How would you like the role to change?
1.1 First and foremost the role must represent the views and need sou the people. This is becoming increasingly important as budgets are being cut to public services. Whilst, of course, serious and organised crime will always make it to the top of a Chief Constables list, minor crimes may not, yet they may cause significant “harm” to local people. Speeding through our communities may not be seen as a priority for senior police officers but it is by local people. The PCC can play an active part in ensuring both are given the appropriate amount of attention by setting the priorities in the Police and Crime Plan.
Cutting crime and harm to our communities is key as is holding the Chief Constable to account for the outcomes of the constabularies activities. Remember, currently only about 20% of their work relates to criminality.
Clearly, appointing the chief Constable, setting budgets, influencing the national agenda and setting up and managing effective cross agency partnerships will be essential. As the former Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council I have experience in all these areas.
1.2 Clearly the scope of the PCC role has been set out by the government. It is likely that they want the role to increase to include the Fire Service and possibly the courts and prisons. These changes are ambitious but could result in improved outcomes for the people of Cambridgeshire.
The Fire Service is currently scrutinised by the Fire Authority. This is made up of elected councillors who are appointed to the Fire Authority by the political leaders at CCC. Often these appointments are patronage, as they receive an allowance. There is little transparency or accountability to the members of the public.
The bigger ask would be to take on responsibility for the Crown Prosecution Service, probation and prisons. There is widespread dissatisfaction that criminals get to court, after much effort by the police, often get too lenient a punishment which is often community based and are back out causing harm too soon. This demotivates the police, upsets victims and gives the impression to the criminals that they are getting away with it.
Would a PCC be able to influence this? I’m not sure unless more prisons are built. Still, a big prize if it worked.
1.3 I think that within the current regulations there is scope to improve the role considerably. Without treading on the Chief Constables toes too much the PCC could get a little closer to the operational decisions, where there is a clear public interest.
For example the introduction of Tazers. I happen to think they are a good thing as they can help to prevent harm to victims and police officers and are not lethal force.
However, when more widespread use was introduced into Cambridgeshire this was at the sole discretion of the Chief Constable. I would want the PCC to be involved to ensure we continue to police with the consent of the public.
I believe anything novel, contentious or expensive should have the PCC involvement. Holding up the trump card of “can’t get involved because it is operational” is a cop out.