This November sees the election of the 41 Police & Crime Commissioners (PCC) across England & Wales and a new method for accountability of the police, abolishing the Police Authority. There will be a single elected person who has their own team working for them, rather than the current situation of councillors and ‘members of the public’.
Policing & Crime Plan
This is the biggest part of what the PCC will be acting on and sets out their 5 year plan for what the policing priorities will be for the area they cover. This task involves hundreds of voluntary organisations that depend on grants and access to keep going as well as the full time paid staff of various community safety organisations. This doesn’t mean we should be focusing on the financial side of the PCC, that comes in when they have to set the precept, but instead on the sheer volume of community organisations that are involved on a day to day basis with the PCC plan.
I am quite biased and therefore think the currently unfunded Neighbourhood Watch should oversee all community safety aspects of the police force. Realistically though each individual organisation that relies on a relationship with the police has to get their point across to the elected PCC and be put into the plan. Clinks have arranged for many of the organisations that need to be involved in this to get together under the umbrella of ‘Safer Future Communities’ which each policing area having a forum that will represent all groups. So if that includes you then please do get in touch with your area coordinator. As it is vital that your point gets across and into the business plan. This can also be done directly through the existing Police Authority staff who will be remaining on to oversee the handling of the general business. Putting yourself forward doesn’t guarantee that your organisation will have a continue relationship.
This all should be done prior to anything, as each PCC should be producing their literature beforehand. How can you know who to elect if they have not already liaised with the various organisations involved? Their campaign has to be focussed on what they know they can do and what they have to work with. With this being such a new concept for the UK then it will be interesting to see how this pans out in the run up to the election day in November. I want to see all those who think they would like to be PCC to come forward and get involved in all the organisations so that you know what you are working with, rather than reading a statement either financial or mission on what the group achieve. It needs to be done now.
The aspect that has been brushed over by all of those who discuss the PCC is the CRIME aspect, this covers their role in the criminal justice system. There doesn’t seem to be too much out there over how this will work other than they will be cooperating with the criminal justice system in their area and also the Drug Interventions Programme funding will be received to the PCC. Different areas will want to focus on different priorities and as such there will be some organisations that are replaced by others and some organisations may have a larger part to play in the police and crime plan.
I hope the mix of policing and justice will work well together, and the more controversial organisations that may well not be popular in the eyes of the public do still get the attention that is needed to keep them operating. The PCC also needs to focus on all of their area, North Yorkshire especially has such a wide mix of locations from the urban areas of York, Harrogate, Selby and Scarborough which is where most of the crime does occur, but also the rural areas which make up the majority of North Yorkshire.
It seems a mammoth task for any one person to take on and so I see very little change coming in for the first year or two of the PCC as it is too many people to coordinate with and not being able to see where the successes are and what is failing. Also comparing with other PCCs across the country. There needs to be kept a lot of the working ties with other Police forces and sharing of resources.
Only time will tell what will happen with the coming elections, but one thing I do know is I hope all the candidates are ready to be grilled by me. Others should be doing the same, it is vital that the PCC that is elected is competent. Feel free for any PCC potential candidate to get in touch as I am sure us at North Yorkshire Neighbourhood Watch or York Neighbourhood watch would enjoy having them come to a meeting and discuss their priorities with us.