Blog: A decade of Making a Difference
In 1829 Robert Peel created the Metropolitan Police service and back then he understood the vital importance of having members of the public involved in the scrutiny, oversight and governance of policing.
It is with that heritage that we are marking 10 years since Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were first democratically elected and started making a real difference by giving the public a stronger voice in policing and criminal justice than ever before.
This year we have been highlighting some of the key areas we have brought positive change to the landscape.
As PCCs, our fundamental role is to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of policing in our areas. We do this through holding the budget for our forces, setting priorities tailored to the needs of our communities through our police and crime plans and through holding Chief Constables to account for their delivery against our plans.
We are the voice of the public in policing, democratically elected to meet the needs of the communities in which we serve. With this, we commission vital support services for victims and ensure the voice of the victim is heard in the criminal justice system. We do this in our wider role as chairs for our local criminal justice boards, which bring criminal justice partners together to deliver improvements on the ground.
PCCs commission victims services across England and Wales and our national victim leads have played a leading role in tackling violence against woman and girls, hosting a national summit to bring together key partners to discuss and confront issues and launching our very own action plan. PCC leadership has meant more tailored local initiatives and behaviour change campaigns and provided vital support services and safety programmes locally. We are engaged on key legislation, including the draft Victims Bill, which we expect will further develop our role in ensuring that victims of crime get the support they need. Nationally, we have also been successful in securing a multi-year funding settlement for victims’ services.
Over the last decade, the role of PCCs across England and Wales has proved pivotal in building partnerships and cutting crime in local communities. We are uniquely placed to coordinate and bring together partners to improve outcomes for vulnerable people and prevent criminality. Our ability and effectiveness to bring agencies and partners together to tackle key issues has been praised and recognised by the Home Secretary at our recent partnership summit and by senior policing figures at the Home Affairs Select Committee on policing priorities in early November.
We also fund vital prevention initiatives to support those most vulnerable with the aim of deterring them away from criminality and equipping them with the tools to make better life decisions. In many areas diversion schemes have been introduced to provide vulnerable people and young people with a network of support to prevent them being targeted by criminals and making poor life choices. PCC led funds have also introduced support services for ex-offenders released back into communities to prevent them from the cycle of re-offending.
PCCs have also significantly invested in additional police officers above and beyond those being recruited as part of the National Uplift Programme.
By listening to the public, we understand the importance of tackling priorities and performance activity. We are also driving forward important work to bring forces together to share best practice and pool expertise in areas such as digital and procurement. PCCs own Bluelight Commercial which works in collaboration with blue light organisations and local/national suppliers, to help transform their commercial services. It has played significant role in leading national commercial activity, from launching new frameworks and contracts for Fleet Vehicles, to continuing to support the delivery of PPE to front line teams, developing our approach to Contingent Labour and creating a National Dynamic Purchasing System for the next generation of Physical Forensic Services.
Prevention is a key priority for all Police and Crime Commissioners. Ten years ago, when the first ever PCCs were elected, only 20 per cent of local police and crime plans included prevention. Now, we are pleased to share that 100 per cent of plans focus on preventing crime and antisocial behaviour. Absolutely vital if we are to cut crime.
We work tirelessly with police and partner agencies by strengthening security measures in public spaces through use of Safer Streets grants and other measures; by investing in innovative projects which divert young people away from crime and working with wider local partners to commission early intervention and prevention programmes to tackle the root causes of crime.
We have also been engaging with Government and partners to deliver multi-agency solutions to wider societal issues which lead to crime; such as the availability of appropriate support for vulnerable people in mental health crisis, and substance abuse.
Over the years the role of PCCs has expanded significantly, with four Commissioners securing the additional responsibility of fire governance. And we haven’t stopped there with this year’s PCC Review clearly setting out where we can make more of a difference, particularly in the criminal justice space.
We have made great improvements in fundamental areas, improving public confidence and playing a valued role within our communities.
Over the last decade we have gone from strength to strength, and we hope to build on this success over the next ten years with increased responsibilities and further powers made available to us so that we can continue to be a true voice of the public.