Agenda item

Police and Crime Panels and Commissioner Elections


A report by the Director of Law, HR and Asset Management reviewed progress to date and next steps regarding the election of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and the setting up of Police and Crime Panels in both a national and local context.


The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 provided for the establishment of a new post of PCC.  This post would replace the existing Merseyside Police Authority structure.


The Board considered a Briefing Paper at Appendix 1 to the report noting that a public election would take place on 15 November 2012 for the first PCC.  Elections after 2012 would be held on the same day as local elections.  The PCC would take office on 22 November 2012 and would remain in post for four years until May 2017.  The PCC would have responsibility for:


§  Appointing the Chief Constable (CC) and holding them to account for the running of their force.

§  Setting out a 5 year Police and Crime Plan to be published by March 2013 (in consultation with the CC) determining local policing priorities.

§  Setting the annual local precept and annual force budget.

§  Making community safety grants to other organisations aside from the CC (including but not limited to Community Safety Partnerships).


Members were informed that The Home Office (regional briefing 25 January 2012) believed that Local Authorities should offer Commissioners their existing community engagement networks (rather than re-invent the wheel) – the resourcing of this was presently unknown.


The Briefing Paper informed that Police and Crime Panels (PCP) would be created as a formally constituted joint committee of all the authorities in the Police Force area. The Home Office had stressed (regional briefing 25 January 2012) that the PCP would support the PCC and act as a critical friend and challenge.  The committee would be bound by Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (Access to Information: Exempt Information)


According to the Home Office the PCP would be a “lightweight” scrutiny body.  It would exist to scrutinise the PCC, to promote openness in the transaction of police business and also to support the PCC in the effective exercise of their functions, the PCP would specifically scrutinise:


·  Police and crime plan

·  Council Tax precept

·  Chief Constables appointment

·  Annual report


The PCP would have the power of veto over the PCC decisions with a two-thirds majority vote on issues of:


·  Precept

·  Selection/removal of the Chief Constable.


The Board noted that the PCC would not be elected to balance their actions/decisions against the wider community needs but only those of crime and disorder.  With the PCC’s right to precept on local government and bearing in mind the PCC’s single responsibility, the decision on how much taxation should be used for this single responsibility would be made without the need to consider other local government expenditure.


The Police Force’s budget must include an element of the ‘strategic policing requirement’, the activities each force was duty-bound to undertake to preserve national security but other than that the PCC could set the force budget in any way they choose.  It was worth noting that one of the two members of staff a PCC has to employ by law was a chief finance officer.


The PCP would not have veto over the force budget.


There was an expectation that PCPs should/would be set up following the May 2012 elections and start to meet in shadow form in September/October.  There was currently (although further discussions would be held) no funding to cover the PCP shadow period.


Unlike Police Authorities, PCCs would not be ‘responsible authorities’ under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, and hence would not be members of Community Safety Partnerships (CSP).  However, provisions in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act placed a mutual duty on PCCs and responsible authorities in CSPs to co-operate to reduce crime, disorder and re-offending.  There was also a similar reciprocal duty on the PCC and criminal justice bodies to co-operate.


The Board considered the Community Safety Co-ordinator’s note at Appendix 2 to the report which outlined a proposed process that would enable the priorities of Wirral CSP to be presented to the PCC for “possible” inclusion within the five year Police and Crime Plan.




(1)  the contents of the report be noted; and


(2)  the report be referred to the Democracy Working Party for consideration.

Supporting documents: