COMMONS

PCCs are here to stay, says Committee report

25 March 2016

The Home Affairs Committee says Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are here to stay, but warns of a lack of competition for Chief Constable vacancies and the need for more transparency.

The Report

As the first four year term of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) draws to a close, the Home Affairs Select Committee says the PCCs who will be elected in May must prioritise consolidating the work of their predecessors before considering further expansions of their role and powers.

Key findings

The Committee concludes:

  • It is deeply concerning that there have been so few applicants for recent Chief Constable vacancies. Many of these roles have been awarded to the incumbent Deputy Chief Constables, who often share a close relationship with the relevant Police and Crime Commissioner.
  • Police and Crime Panels must be better equipped to hold PCCs to account – they are the only mechanism for accountability of PCCs outside of elections every four years – and PCCs should meet with their PCPs a minimum of once every 2 months.
  • There should be better transparency and accountability of PCCs. This should include a central register of PCCs interests and a centrally maintained list of PCC office costs.
  • PCCs should consolidate their profile in the communities they represent. Turnout at the next elections will be one measure of success in engagement.
  • Any expansion of the PCC role needs to be incremental and carefully judged. The additional responsibilities for PCCs detailed in the Policing and Crime Bill in relation to fire and rescue, and in police complaints provide sufficient additional challenges for now, and PCCs should concentrate on the issues raised in this report, wider public
    engagement and their core role before broader expansion of their role is considered.
  • Progress on the new Police Funding Formula must be brought forward, as damaging delays are making it impossible for PCCs to fulfil their role of setting Force budgets. PCCs hands are tied by the stalled review which must be restarted urgently, with the establishment of the independent panel HASC called for in its December report.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, said:

"PCCs are here to stay. A series of measures would consolidate their role and effectiveness in local communities. This must begin with a central register of PCCs interests and a centrally maintained list of PCC office costs, so they can be better scrutinised by their electorate.

We did not anticipate that the creation of PCCs would have such a dramatic effect on the appointment of Chief Constables. The pool of talent in policing is in danger of drying up, with so few applications for the most senior jobs in Policing. PCCs must ensure applicants for Chief Constable roles have served at least two years in another Police Force at a senior rank, and not allow close working relationships with their Deputy Chief Constables to deter external applicants.

We should take care not to burden newly elected office holders in May with too many additional responsibilities. They are already due to be given more powers for Fire and Rescue Services and Police Complaints, and an even broader remit on top of this may prove overwhelming and these proposals should be paused."

Further information

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