Police and crime commissioners: Their first year

Published 19 November 2013

It's been a year since police and crime commissioners (PCCs) were elected to office. Since then they have been working to deliver more efficient and effective policing on behalf of the public they serve and are more visible and accountable for policing than the police authorities they replaced.

PCCs were introduced to be visible and well-known in their communities and accountable to the electorate. To provide an impetus to reform, innovate and deliver policing more efficiently. They have responsibility for writing the police and crime plan, setting the police budget, and hiring and firing of chief constables.

Over the last year, for every few stories that grabbed the headlines, there were many more that didn’t. So we’ve compiled a selection of some of the differences that PCCs have delivered in the last year that you may not have heard about.

Northumbria PCC, Vera Baird

Wanting to safeguard vulnerable women enjoying a night out in Newcastle. Door staff have been trained to watch for vulnerable people and assess their need for help. Nobody who is vulnerable will now be refused admission or ejected from premises. Instead, they will be safeguarded until assistance can be sought, whether from police, street pastors or through reuniting with friends. After working with the Security Industry Association, it has been agreed that nationally, nobody will now be allowed to qualify as door staff without undertaking training to assess vulnerable people.

Sussex PCC, Katy Bourne

Sussex launched a Domestic Abuse Campaign which aims to encourage earlier reporting and encourage victims to talk to police and partner agencies and not suffer in silence. Katy Bourne works in partnership with agencies across Sussex to strengthen efforts to change the culture of abuse, attitudes and behaviour. Sussex Police is the first force in England and Wales to gain White Ribbon Award status for its commitment to the global campaign to ensure men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women.

North Wales PCC, Winston Roddick

After consultation with the farming unions and community groups, a Rural Crime Team of officers, police community support officers and special constables have been established, who provide a vital link between rural communities and North Wales Police. The team is tasked with improving crime prevention and security, dealing with crime such as thefts on equipment and livestock as well as wildlife and environmental crime. The team is already delivering on rural crime by holding local meetings with unions and young farmers, visiting livestock markets, giving crime prevention advice, recovering stolen property and taking steps to increase security.

Staffordshire PCC, Matthew Ellis

A zero-tolerance crackdown on motor insurance dodgers which has seen over 700 vehicles seized in just four months was instigated in Stoke-on-Trent. The on-going crackdown uses Staffordshire’s extensive automatic number plate recognition system that identifies those flouting the law. As well as specific operations, the approach has been built into daily activities for officers to seek out those committing offences. Monthly estimated figures have revealed that there were 1,095 fewer vehicles registered as uninsured in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent in July this year compared to the previous month. The campaign’s success has led to an offer from at least one insurance company to begin discussions on insurance premium discounts for Staffordshire postcodes with the greatest successes.

Avon & Somerset PCC, Sue Mountstevens

Avon and Somerset now has a ground breaking new online service called TrackMyCrime. The service offers all victims the opportunity to track their crime as it is investigated, including real time updates from police officers.

As well as accessing information and receiving updates being more convenient, it will save time and resource and improve two-way communications with victims and the police. Avon & Somerset are now working with other police forces who may want to adopt TrackMyCrime.

Kent PCC, Ann Barnes

During the election campaign in 2012, concerns were raised about the accuracy of crime recording in Kent. The Ann Barnes saw it as her duty to ensure that the people of the county could have confidence in the force’s crime figures. Ann has used her new powers to bring in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to undertake a comprehensive and independent investigation. Using HMIC gave the added weight of external validation. The investigation revealed that there were issues to tackle, and a rigorous improvement process is now underway.

South Yorkshire PCC, Shaun Wright

National research has shown a consistent link between the level of police visibility and public confidence in the police. Since coming in to office, Shaun Wright has provided funding for 2013/14 which includes the replacement of the 110 officers expected to have left in 2012/13; together with the part year cost of replacing 60 officers anticipated to be leaving during 2013/14; with a specific proviso that 50 of the 60 should be allocated to Neighbourhood Policing with the remaining 10 being allocated to Child Protection duties. Funding was also put in place to support the maintenance of PCSO numbers at 328.

Gwent PCC, Ian Johnston

Ian Johnston launched the first police and crime commissioner app in the UK. The app provides residents with an interactive look at the activities of Ian Johnston and his office. It also provides the latest OPCC news, information about Ian, his priorities and the meetings he attends. The app is part of a commitment made by the PCC to engage as widely as possible with residents, and to ensure that those who wish to access information and contact him via their mobiles are able to.

Merseyside PCC, Jane Kennedy

Significant savings have been made in Merseyside by streamlining the PCC office from the one employed by the previous police authority. Jane Kennedy has also relocated her team from an expensive city centre office to vacant space in a well-known police station. This enabled her to not only save £700,000 in her first year in office, but also identify full year savings of £800,000 after March 2014. This has helped the force to recruit new officers for the first time in nearly three years.

Essex PCC, Nick Alston

Nick thinks police forces across the country are not using intelligence as effectively as they can, and that information is not flowing through the system, reaching those who need to know it, as quickly or as well as it should. In Essex, mobile data terminals are being rolled out. This technology offers the key functionality that officers need to respond to fast moving incidents. They can access and input intelligence reports and view live CCTV streams. They can also make valuable information from a crime scene available to police systems. These modified laptops enable an officer to stay on patrol and be visible in the community for longer, preventing their having to return to the station to undertake routine administrative tasks.

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