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Policy development document - Police and Crime Commissioners(PCC)
The concept of elected Police and Crime Commissioners(PCC) was created in 2011 with the idea of generating greater accountability for regional police forces in relation to budgets and performance targets.

The first PCC elections were held in a stand-alone manner with three and a half year terms. The second round of elections in May 2015 will be for a fuller 4 year term, and scheduled to occur on the same day as regional elections, suggesting at least a partial increase in turn-out.

The poor turn-out for the PCC elections in the November 2012, averaging 15% nationally leave a serious democratic deficit whilst the 5k pound deposit and 100 names on a nomination form further restrict the ability of candidates outside of the establishment to participate.

The Liberal Party continues to opposite the elected role and the associated election as simple politicisation, whilst adding another level of bureaucracy.

Perhaps the only redeeming feature of the election was the fact that almost a third of the successful candidates were Independents, ensuring that the election wasn’t a simple carve up between the two dominate parties in Westminster.

PCCs have indeed had a tough induction, with steep and unprecedented cuts to Police budget, for which they should be given credit for navigating, but the concept of the PCC falls short of public expectations.

The PCCs accountability only extended to Police targets and budgeting, and they do not have any powers over operational or disciplinary issues, which remain beyond public scrutiny.

The PCC has the power to dismiss the Chief Constable, of which at least two have done so, but no further down the chain of command. Of course we don’t wish to introduce an element of political interference into the Police forces, but issues of public accountability continue to surface.

Nationally there remains no obvious supervision of regional Police forces from central Government, and we continue to see the sorry spectacle of police forces investigating police forces over the most serious issues.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary for England and Wales (HMIC) exists only to assess and report on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces in England and Wales.

The issue of the PCCs mandate therefore warrant critical scrutiny. Is the term Commissioner even valid without an expansion of the role?

Although the role meets the Liberal aim of ‘local’ accountability, it does so only for a limit set of functions, ie budget and performance, and not operational accountability.

One suggestion has been that the three emergency services should be covered by a single ‘Emergency Services’ Commissioner.
Although fire services share with police forces a county affiliation, the national ambulance service is run on a regional basis. In the Thames Valley, the South-east ambulance service covers Berkshire, Bucks and Oxfordshire, but also Hants which has a separate PCC.

The functions and responsibilities of the three emergency services are fundamentally different, and only the Police and fire service have any affiliation by any stretch of the imagination. As the nature and culture of these three services is also very different, it is hard to see where any commonality could be found.

Unified call centres for the emergency services obviously exists, but it is unclear how much further integration there could be. Would we wish to merge the role of Police call handler with Ambulance dispatchers?

The inclusion of fire services in the PCC responsibilities offers the only plausible route to a wider public role, but with the proviso that any such move in this direction needs to be carefully managed to ensure the minimum disruption to front line services

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