Agenda Item No.
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 28TH MARCH, 2012
REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION): 14TH MARCH, 2012
“ ESTABLISHMENT OF POLICE AND CRIME PANELS (DLPPHS) -
The Operational Manager Democratic Services apprised the Committee on the requirements of the Police and Social Responsibility Act 2011 and specifically the requirement to establish Police and Crime Panels.
The above Act brought in new structural arrangements for national policing, strategic police decision-making, neighbourhood policing and policing accountability. One of the main thrusts of this legislation was to establish elections for Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), the first of which would take place in November 2012 and secondly, the establishment of Police and Crime Panels (PCPs) who would hold the PCC to account. PCPs would be constituted from locally elected Councillors in addition to a number of lay members.
The Operational Manager further indicated that the UK Government indicated that arrangements should be developed locally and consequently guidance had been issued by both the Local Government Association in conjunction with the Centre for Public Scrutiny and the Welsh Local Government Association. In issuing the guidance the Local Government Association had indicated it intended to provide a summary of the key issues both local authorities and police authorities should address in establishing accountability arrangements for the PCC.
In referring to specific issues relating to the role of the PCC and the PCP, the Operational Manager indicated that there was an expectation for PCCs to work closely with partners and that partnership working would be important if they were to operate effectively. Under Section 10 of the above Act, the PCC was required to co-operate with Local Community Safety Partners to achieve the objectives of the Police and Crime Plan. This Strategic Plan would need to be published by April 2013. In referring to the specific role of the PCP, the Operational Manager indicated that this Panel would be regarded as a scrutiny body, existing to scrutinise the PCC, to promote openness in the transaction of police business and to support the PCC in the effective exercise of their functions. The specific functions of the PCP were set out in paragraph 8 to the report.
The Operational Manager also referred to other related matters in regard to the establishment of PCCs, namely functions and procedural rules for operation, specific duties around formal audit, focussing on the consideration of finance reports. Prior to any decisions being made regarding the composition of a PCP the role and functions which needed to be considered and determined in relation to the following matters:
· which authority will lead / chair? (N.B. The Welsh Local Government Association [WLGA] had expressed an interest in undertaking the lead role in terms of administering PCPs.)
· how will panel arrangements and rules of procedure be set out?
· how will the PCP, PCC and other local community safety partners define their inter-relationships?
· in particular, what will be the division of responsibilities between the PCP (at force level) and local Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Committees (at local level)?
· will the PCP's focus be mainly reactive scrutiny or proactive policy development (the nature of the PCP's role suggests that both will need to be carried out, but the balance will need to be decided)?
· how will the public be involved?
· how will decisions be made?
· how will the Panel be supported and resourced? (See reference above to WLGA.)
The Operational Manager also indicated as far as the composition of the PCP was concerned, the Act made detailed provisions which took account of the following:
· where a force area consists of ten or fewer authorities, the number of members of the PCP will be ten, not including the co-opted members
· where a force area consists of more than ten authorities, there will be as many members as there are local authorities in the force area, plus two co-opted members
· additional councillors maybe co-opted onto the PCP, as long as two lay co-optees area also included, the size of the PCP does not exceed 20 and the Secretary of State approves the co-options
· composition should be carried out in accordance to the 'fair representation objective', essentially each authority in the force area must be represented by at least one member if the total number of authorities in the area is less than ten, and one member if the number of authorities is ten or more
· where agreement cannot be reached, the Secretary of State has the power to make nominations
· the PCC cannot be a member of the PCP
· sitting MPs, Welsh AMs, MSPs, MEPs, staff of the PCC and civilian police staff may not be co-opted onto the PCP
· by and large, beyond these principles the choice of who sits on the PCP will be down to the authorities involved. However, in Wales, and in those parts of England where agreement cannot be reached, the Home Secretary will nominate members.
It was further noted that relevant authorities within the area would need between them, to make decisions on the undermentioned issues which in turn would need to be set out in the PCP arrangements, namely:
· Who will sit on the PCP, and how can we assure equity of representation?
Ø How do we ensure the PCP is politically proportionate across the force area?
Ø How will seats be assigned to individual authorities?
Ø Will Executive, or non-Executive, Members sit on the PCP?
Ø What will happen in committee system authorities?
Ø Who will the lay members / co-optees be, and what process will be used to appoint them?
· How will changes in political control in authorities within the force area, and other necessary membership changes be dealt with?
· Will a "special responsibility allowance" be assigned?
· What happens if a decision cannot be reached?
· What happens in Wales?
The Operational Manager, in referring to the scrutiny role of the PCP, indicated that membership of the same would not be confined to non-Executive members of local authorities. He suggested that representatives appointed by local authorities to the PCPs could well be either the Council Leader or the relevant portfolio Cabinet Member. In addition, he indicated the Home Office had made available a small amount of funding to support a “host” authority. The WLGA had subsequently written to local authorities on this point indicating that they were prepared to undertake this role. Taking account of available resources that currently existed to support the Council’s decision-making processes and scrutiny function he considered that it was unrealistic to expect the Council to seek to be the “host” authority and suggested that the Scrutiny Committee may wish to consider supporting the WLGA or, in any event, not opposing another local authority, who might wish to be the “host” authority.
Having regard to the report and to the above issues it was
(1) T H A T the report be noted.
(2) T H A T a further report be submitted to a future meeting regarding arrangements for the operation of the Police and Crime Panel.
(3) T H A T Cabinet be requested to approve offering no objection to the WLGA or, indeed, another local authority becoming the “host” authority.
Reasons for recommendations
(1&2) To raise awareness of the role of the Police and Crime Panel.
(3) To agree how the Panel will be supported and resourced in the future.”
Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection): 14th March, 2012.