Police and Crime Panel

Posted on: 8th February 2014

On Friday, I traveled to Plymouth for the Police and Crime Panel, a sort of scrutiny committee for the work of the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner. The main agenda items were to update the Police and Crime Plan and to consider the level of precept (how much is needed from Council tax) for the policing of Devon and Cornwall.

The Police and Crime Commissioner is responding to messages from the Panel and the public that they need to see what the Commissioner as opposed to the Chief Constable and his staff are doing. The draft revised plan has begun to separate out what the Police Commissioner will do and what the Chief Constable is responsible for but the Panel are looking for further improvements.

The Commissioner was challenged that items the Chief Constable is responsible for are more tangible and measurable whereas what he lists as doing is more woolly so it is difficult to hold him to account on or know whether he has or has not achieved anything. The exception is his commitment to retain Police Officers numbers at over 3,000. It is largely to achieve that that he asked us to approve increasing the Policing element of the Council tax bill by 1.99% and this was unanimously supported.

The meeting also considered the Police and Crime Commissioners Performance, to 31 December 2013. The trouble was, although it was on the agenda as his performance, all the indicators were operational policing ones. Another concern was that of 5 performance indicators, only 1 was on track to be achieved.

Another worry to the panel was a staff survey. It showed that only 47% of staff understood the direction the Force is going and 45% thought the senior leaders of our Police were doing a good job. The same survey reported that 95% of the staff knew who the Police and Crime Commissioner was but only 26% of staff knew what the priorities of the Commissioner were. The Commissioner agreed that he had to work on a better communication strategy.

It would be interesting for some-one to conduct the same survey with the general public!