Panel’s key roles and responsibilities
The Panel scrutinises and supports the performance and activities of the Commissioner and will:-
- Review the plans and objectives set out in the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan
- Scrutinise the Commissioner’s proposed council tax precept for Policing (this the money collected from council tax specifically for Policing). As part of this, the Panel has oversight of the overall draft Policing budget and its proposed allocation. To ensure that Members make a tangible and practical contribution to the budget and precept-setting process, early consultation on the budget provides opportunity for members to consider planning assumptions and forecasts ahead of the formal scrutiny in February.
- Scrutinise the Commissioner’s proposed appointment of a Chief Constable. The Panel has the ability to veto the appointment if this is considered necessary
- Consider and resolve non-criminal complaints made to the Panel about the Commissioner. The Panel’s remit is limited to complaints specifically about the Commissioner’s personal conduct. Serious complaints – conduct which constitutes or involves, or appears to constitute or involve, the commission of a criminal offence – must be referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
With the support of the Commissioner, the Panel has established a Link Member role for the purpose of:-
- Drawing on the knowledge, expertise and interests of Panel Members to contribute to and influence the work of the Commissioner in key areas of business;
- Developing the role of the Panel in proactive scrutiny work;
- Supporting the development of strong and effective partnership working with Local Authorities, Community Safety Partnerships and the wider partners at a local level in delivering the Police and Crime Plan;
- Strengthening accountability and transparency by inviting Link Members to report back to the full Panel Membership on activities and key issues in their area of business
The Panel dedicated agenda time during the 2015/16 meeting cycle to support and scrutinise performance against the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan. The Panel undertook a number of mini inquiries looking into specific topics in more detail, including:-
Putting Victims First
The Commissioner’s vision for victims set out in the Police and Crime Plan, is:-
“I want to improve victim’s satisfaction with and influence over the services they receive. I will support a joined up approach to service delivery that has the voice of victims at its heart. I will be a fierce advocate for all victims, particularly those that are vulnerable, intimidated or persistently targeted, victims of serious offences such as domestic abuse, sexual abuse and hate crime.”
The Panel received the following report setting out the work in progress to address the lack of joined up services for victims and efforts to make the voice of victims heard in the criminal justice process:-
In 2016, the Panel was specifically concerned about low detection rates and the potential for these to impact on public confidence and act as a deterrent to reporting. Here you will find the performance headlines and examples of initiatives the Commissioner provided to the Panel to demonstrate what is being done to prevent and reduce burglary and the fear of burglary:-
In 2016 the Panel noted that the number of recorded offences of cybercrime had increased by 91%. The Constabulary does not have a dedicated cyber-crime unit but there is a wide ranging capacity to deal with different elements of cyber related criminality within various different units. The Panel accepted that this crime presents high level challenges for the Constabulary, particularly in terms of child protection and economic crime which often requires the pursuit of offenders outside of the UK. However, the Panel expressed concern about the high volume lower level frauds and the need for front line officers, PCSO’s and police staff to be trained to deliver the appropriate level of services to the public when these reports are made.
The Panel also raised concern about the internal reporting boundaries between the Constabulary and Action Fraud which can be meaningless to the average person and do not take into consideration the economic and personal loss to victims who are frequently elderly and vulnerable. The Panel emphasised the need for greater steps to both combat and detect cybercrime locally, for reporting to be made easier and victims kept routinely informed after a complaint is made. Work around education and prevention is always key to protecting our communities and the Panel recommended that consideration be given to a publicity campaign. The Panel continues to contribute to this work area and welcomes this opportunity.
The Panel and the Commissioner agree that partner agencies coming together in a “One Team” approach is crucial to addressing the underlying causes of anti-social behaviour. It is evident that the co-location of Police and Local Authority services is working well especially in the case of on-going neighbourhood disputes that require both Police and Local Authority intervention. CCTV continues to provide a solid evidence base in addition to a written log of incidents which people are routinely advised to keep. The Panel feel that training should be a key element of the partnership approach to this problem but recognise that individual partners must be alert to this and take responsibility for the training of their staff.
The Commissioner clarified the powers available to the Police around fly tipping which a number of Panel members feel is on the increase in their wards. The law requires any action taken in response to fly tipping to be proportionate and supported by sufficient evidence. Accordingly whilst the court has power to confiscate the vehicle of an offender, this happens infrequently because it is not considered a proportionate response. However, it is apparent that Magistrates are becoming increasingly mindful of the impact on the community and this is being reflected in the fines imposed and recent tagging of offender