Councillor Sue James is coming off the panel monitoring the work of Tony Hogg, Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
To be honest, travelling from St Just to Plymouth to a meeting where, as Councillors, we have very little influence and even less power, seemed a waste of my time and effort. The Police and Crime Panel is as ineffective as the whole role of Police and Crime Commissioner so I am walking away. If any one is concerned that I have taken this action then do contact me and I will happily meet with you and discuss in more detail.
Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner related posts you might be interested in:
Devon and Cornwall Police Front Desk Closures. (July 2014)
A man from Crowlas sent Sue a copy of his letter to find out what the Police and Crime Commissioner does. His letter and the answer he received is re-produced here.
Letter to the Commissioner:
What has the Police and Crime Commissioner personally done, achieved or organised that could not have been done, achieved or organised by an already existing Chief Constable, senior Police Officer or any senior member, civilian or uniformed, of the police service?
The response he got read:
I always welcome the opportunity to explain more about the pioneering role of the Police and Crime Commissioners and the influence and impact we can make as the public’s policing representatives.
Before the inaugural PCC election in November 2012, police forces were held to account locally by Police Authorities. They were made up principally of local authority representatives and independent members. However they had no real public facing role.
With this in mind the Government replaced Police Authorities with directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners. The aim was simple – to bring the police and public much closer together. My manifesto and subsequent Police and Crime plan includes policing priorities developed by me, but molded and influenced by what the public tells me. They include protecting officer numbers, tackling alcohol related crime and misuse, domestic and sexual violence and giving victims of crime a greater voice. I have engaged directly with many groups, partners, police and thousands of individuals over the last two years, before and after receiving the election mandate.
With any new system there will inevitably be a ‘bedding in’ period and after more than a year in office, I believe that I am through this. Considerable work needed to be done in my first twelve months to enable an effective transition from the Police Authority and to manage a considerably larger workload and statutory responsibilities, including the commissioning of services for community safety, victims and restorative justice.
An excellent example of how I can make a real difference is in maintaining police officer numbers above 3,000. Under the old Police Authority they were due to fall to 2,810. The public told me that they wanted to see ‘bobbies on the beat’ and I was able to raise the policing precept part of the council tax last year to enable me to stop this decline in numbers. Indeed, you will notice that I am recommending similar rise for this purpose for 2014/15. This can only be done by an elected representative.
In a democratic society it is imperative that there is transparent and effective scrutiny of our police force. I hold the Chief Constable to account for the delivery of the police and crime plan and more than ever before there is a rigorous analysis of force performance which is carried out by the OPCC. Clearly it would be inappropriate for this work to be carried out internally by the police force themselves and, as PCC, I have the power to appoint and, in exceptional circumstances, dismiss the Chief Constable.
I am pleased with what we have achieved so far, whilst accepting that much new work lies ahead of us. I do accept that some people still have to be convinced about the merits of this PCC role. However I am confident that we are already proving how it effectively delivers what the Government set out to achieve. It provides a link to the public for police performance, scrutiny and transparent accountability and I have received plenty of positive feedback about how refreshing it is to have a genuine pathway for the public to influence the future shape of our policing.
It is inconceivable to see how the statutory responsibilities of the Police and Crime Commissioners, and therefore the stated goals of Government policy on this issue could be achieved by senior officers within the force. My role is scrutinised by the Police and Crime Panel, and ultimately my performance will be reflected in the process of democratic accountability.
Sue would be interested in your views and whether you would be happy for these to be published on this page.