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Commissioner role still 'on probation'

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 05, 2014

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Police commissioners are "on probation" because of a failure to cut through to the public, a powerful committee of MPs has concluded.

The Home Affairs Select Committee says in a report the case for Police and Crime Commissioners has yet to be made, after low election turnouts and the failure of some PCCs to live up to the expectations of the public.

PCCs were elected for the first time in November 2012 on turnouts as low as 15 per cent. They were intended to replace police authorities drawn from local councils.

Reforms suggested by the committee include putting the names of deputy PCCs on the election ballot, allowing teams to be elected as a single ticket in a bid to boost transparency and prevent claims of nepotism.

The "double ticket" reform is backed by Dorset's Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill.

He said: "I believe that deputy PCCs can play an important role in supporting this very busy and full role but that is something the public should be aware of in their selection."

Mr Underhill also said it was: "fundamentally clear" that PCCs are engaging with communities.

Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: "The concept of police and crime commissioners is still very much on probation.

"Some commissioners have fallen well short of the public's expectations and urgent reforms are needed to ensure that this concept does not put at risk public trust and engagement in the police, the very objectives for which PCCs were brought in.

"Deputies should not be cronies that are given their job on the basis of nepotism. By electing them on the same ticket we ensure that the public will be able to have their say on someone who often acts with the powers of the commissioner.

"Though we welcome good working relationships between chief constables and PCCs, the arrangement should never be too cosy. The setting of targets by PCCs must not promote the manipulation of crime figures and all PCCs should review their auditing arrangements immediately."

Police and crime panels should be strengthened to improve their role in scrutinising the removal, resignation or retirement of a chief constable, the committee concluded, adding that panels should also be able to veto appointments of deputy PCCs.

Mr Vaz said: "The hiring of deputies and the decision to remove chief constables are critical decisions for local communities and it is vital that the amount of the scrutiny applied to commissioners by police and crime panels increases.

"Panels' powers must be strengthened and extended to ensure that any decision to remove a chief constable is the right one for the public. Only this will provide full public confidence."

Mr Underhilll continued: "In Dorset, I would argue that we have taken huge steps to involve our panel in our decision making processes".

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  • Free2opine  |  May 06 2014, 12:14PM

    Well said Stan. All the while we are funding this extra bod and all their office staff, PC's on the ground are losing their jobs. "On probation" is what they should be......literally!!!!

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  • StanStill  |  May 06 2014, 7:24AM

    The question being asked should be, ''has anyone noticed any improvement in policing since we have had PCC's'', the answer in my are a is a resounding NO, and I bet it is the same elsewhere. Too many PCC's have been claiming false expences(obviously take after MP's), the Mr £700 for two cars Man, another over claiming travel allowances, one wasting over £200,000 on consultants, and another made to pay back £3000 for fiddled mileage, and one even tried to change his office to half a mile from his home, so he could claim extra travel allowance to the force HQ. There are some who just love to have their pics inh the paper every day, or appear on TV as if they were the Chief.

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