Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs)
The Policing & Social Responsibility Act 2011 contained legislation which shifts the decision-making on the strategic management of policing. Taking it away from the traditional controls of Police Authorities and central and local government and handing it over to elected Police and Crime Commissioners in England (excluding from this process the other three countries of the United Kingdom).
PCCs Key Tasks & Functions
PCCs will aim to cut crime and deliver an effective and efficient police service within the force area. They will do this by:
They will also exercise regional power and influence over the development and work of local Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) via powers and duties. These are:
The first election of Police and Crime Commissioners are scheduled to occur on 15 November 2012.
However, the powers to regionally strategically commission and manage services from the police has already been delegated to the elected Mayor of London. In January 2012, the Mayor established a new new administrative structure to exercise his powers. The London Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPC) - is now establishing itself as a national pathfinder.
PCCs Formal Role
PCCs will appoint (and will be able to dismiss) chief constables, although the chief constable will appoint all other officers within the force. But this responsibility does not apply in London; where the Home Secretary will advise the Queen on appointment and dismissal after consultation with the Mayor of London.
Shortly after their election in November 2012, PCCs are expected to set out a five-year police and crime plan (the plan), although it may be refreshed each year and may be fully reopened at the PCC's discretion.
They will be required to determine local policing priorities, publish the plan, set a local precept and set the annual force budget (including contingency reserves) in consultation with chief constables. The plan will need to take account of national policing challenges, set out in a new 'Strategic Policing Requirement'.
They will receive the policing grant from the Home Office, various grants from Department for Communities and Local Government and the local precept (as well as other funding streams yet to be determined). The PCC will then commission policing services from the chief constable (or other providers - in consultation with the chief constable). These services will be set out in the plan where their objectives and funding will be publicly disclosed. The plan must be published and remain a public document including any updates or amendments made during the five-year period
At the end of the financial year the PCC will publish an annual report which will set out progress made by the PCC against the objectives set out in the plan. Alongside the annual report the PCC will publish annual financial accounts, including showing how resources were consumed in respect of priorities and how value for money was secured.
PCCs will have a general duty to regularly consult and involve the public and have regard to the local authority priorities.
PCCs will be able to require a report from chief constables at any time about the execution of their functions
- The PCC will be able to delegate the exercise of functions, but not the responsibility for their execution
- The local precept will be subject to the same referendum requirements as local government (triggered on rises which exceed thresholds set by government)
- PCCs will have a duty to hold their chief constables to account for having regard to codes of practice
Politicising the Police?
It has been suggested that the Police and Crime Commissioners, who may be elected as official candidates of policitical parties, will politicise policing. The Home office deny this and state:
"The job of the PCC will be to ensure the policing needs of their communities are met as effectively as possible, bringing communities closer to the police, building confidence in the system and restoring trust. They will give the public a voice at the highest level, and give the public the ability to ensure their police are accountable. However, it will not be for the PCC to tell the professionals how to do their job properly - nothing with the legislation fetters the operational independence of the police service. The operations of the police will not be politicised; who is arrested and how investigations work will not become political decisions.""The statutory protocol sets out the roles and responsibilities of the PCC, chief constable, Home Office, police and crime panel and builds on the government's commitment that local chief constables will retain the direction and control of their forces' officers and staff and makes clear that operational independence of the police will be safeguarded. The protocol also underlines the government's commitment to limiting the role of the Home Office in day-to-day policing matters so giving the police a greater freedom to fight crime as they see fit."
PCCs Area Crime Plan
PCCs will be elected for four years and when they are elected they will be required to publish a police and crime plan. This will set out the police and crime objectives of the force area. Chief constables will remain responsible for operational matters, however PCCs will have the authority to hire and, if necessary, dismiss the chief constable.
Association of Police and Crime Commissioners
The Association of Police Authorities (APA) has been commissioned to develop an 'umbrella body' for elected Police and Crime Commissioners and all policing governance bodies in England and Wales as part of the transition from Police Authorities to PCCs. The APCC will commence operations from 22 November 2012. For more information follow the link below.
The London Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPC)
Home Office Police and Crime Commisioners web page
Home Office PCCs Update Bulletin page