The mandate for Police and Crime Commissioners comes directly from the people they serve. For the first time those responsible for policing are now locally elected and are directly answerable to the electorate.
At their best, PCCs are delivering real change in how police forces are held to account and are ensuring local residents have a powerful voice in the policing of their communities.
PCCs have a crucial role in challenging and supporting Chief Constables, and ensuring through open scrutiny that the public know what their police forces are doing to protect people from harm and keep communities safe.
Just as PCCs hold Chief Constables to account,there must be a clear mechanism for scrutinising the work of PCCs. This scrutiny is currently delivered by local Police and Crime Panels.
It was perhaps inevitable that the legislation as bold and radical an initiative as the creation of PCCs for each force area would need to evolve over time. There is clearly a case for improving the election process itself, and for reviewing the legislation regarding Deputy PCCs. The tragic death of PCC Bob Jones, part way through his term ably serving the communities of the West Midlands, has prompted consideration of whether clearer guidelines and protocols are needed during such sad circumstances.
It is also proper to examine the scrutiny framework governing PCCs. The APCC is developing proposals which will be presented to government before the end of the year. We will present our views on the powers of Police and Crime Panels and whether there is a need for a new power for the Home Secretary to recall a PCC in exceptional circumstances.
Fundamentally, PCCs must continue to be focused on victims, and protecting the vulnerable in their local communities from harm. Across the country, PCCs are leading innovative work to prevent violence against women and girls, to tackle domestic abuse, to challenge hate crime and to support victims in real and tangible ways.
The public and especially victims have to be able to trust their police and have confidence that Police and Crime Commissioners will hold the police to account on their behalf. To build that confidence it is essential that a clear and strong scrutiny framework governs our work.
Nick Alston, APCC Chairman on behalf of the APCC Board
Note to Editors:
1) the members of the APCC Board are:
Nick Alston, Essex
Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire
Ron Ball, Warwickshire
Ian Johnston, Gwent
Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester
Vera Baird QC, Northumbria
Simon Duckworth, City of London