On 5th May, people in England and Wales (except in London and Greater Manchester) will take to the polls to elect a new police and crime commissioner for their local police force area.
Police and crime commissioners (PCCs) are elected to hold the police to account for delivering the kind of policing you want to see. Their aim is to cut crime and to ensure your police force is effective. They are there to ensure the policing needs of the public are met as effectively as possible and to oversee how crime is tackled by the police.
They bring a public voice to policing and do this by:
engaging with the public and victims of crime to help set police and crime plans;
ensuring the police force budget is spent where it matters most; and
appointing, and where necessary dismissing, the chief constable.
Represent the entire community
PCCs are required to swear an oath of impartiality when they are elected to office. The oath is designed so that PCCs can set out publicly their commitment to tackling their new role with integrity. It reflects the commitment police officers make to serve every member of the public impartially and makes clear that they are there to serve the people, not a political party or any one section of their electorate.
Speaking about the forthcoming elections, Home Secretary Theresa May said:
"We brought in police and crime commissioners (PCCs) to be elected, visible, well-known in their communities and accountable to the electorate. In the last three-and-a-half years, PCCs have engaged with the public which has lead to initiatives targeted directly to the needs of the local community.
"According to the independent Crime Survey for England and Wales, PCCs have presided over a reduction in crime of more than a quarter since their introduction. They’ve achieved this during a time when police funding has reduced by a fifth. This is no mean feat. The accomplishments of PCCs matter, they matter to local people and they matter for the integrity of the policing system as a whole."
Further powers for PCCs
In the future you may see the role of your PCC expand to include governance of other services. The forthcoming Policing and Crime Bill will introduce measures to enable PCCs, where a local case is made, to take on responsibilities for fire and rescue services locally and even create a single employer for the two services.
There is scope for the role of the PCC to be extended further still, and the government has been exploring what role PCCs could play in the wider criminal justice system.
The second PCC elections will take place on 5th May across England and Wales (excluding London and Greater Manchester where the mayor has responsibility for policing). You can find information about the candidates standing for election in your police force area online at Choose My PCC.