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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection): 14th March 2012

 

Report of the Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services

 

Police and Crime Commissioners

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To apprise Members of the impact that the role of Police and Crime Commissioners will have within South Wales.

Recommendations

1.             THAT the report be noted.

2.             THAT a progress report be submitted following the election of the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To raise Scrutiny Member awareness of the role of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

2.             To ensure that the Committee fulfils its crime and disorder obligations in monitoring progress made by the Safer Vale Partnership.

Background

2.             The Safer Vale Partnership was established in 1999 in response to the requirements of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.  The Act requires all 'responsible authorities' and their partners to work together to address crime and disorder.  The responsible authorities within the Vale of Glamorgan are the Vale of Glamorgan Council, South Wales Police, South Wales Police Authority, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Cardiff and Vale University Local Health Board and Wales Probation Trust.  The partnership also includes the Vale Centre for Voluntary Services as a key agency in recognition of their vital contribution to reducing crime and disorder.

3.             The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill has been agreed by parliament.  One of the changes is the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) across England and Wales which will replace Police Authorities.

4.             Democratic elections will be taking place across England and Wales on the 15th November 2012.  There will be one PCC elected to represent South Wales.  The PCCs will hold office for four years.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.             The PCC's role will be very similar to the role of the Police Authority.  The PCC's responsibilities will be to:

Secure an efficient and effective police force for their area.

Appoint the chief constable, hold them to account for the running of the force and if necessary dismiss them.

Set the police and crime objective for their area by producing a five year police and crime plan.

Set the annual force budget and the police precept and produce an annual report setting out progress against the objectives in the Police and Crime Plan

Contribute to the national and international policing capabilities set out by the Home Secretary in the Strategic Policing Requirement.

Co-operate with the criminal justice system in their area.

Work with partners and fund community safety activities to tackle crime and disorder.

6.             The introduction of PCCs will have a considerable impact on local authorities.  There is a mutual duty on PCCs and Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) to co-operate.  Both will also have regard to each other's priorities when drawing up the police and crime plan (in case of the PCC) and the strategic assessment (CSPs).  More importantly funding, which previously has been allocated direct from the Home Office to CSP's, will now be allocated directly to the PCC once elected.

7.             To ensure local accountability a Police Crime Panel (PCP) will be established in each force area to scrutinise the work of the PCC.  In Wales the Home Secretary will seek nominations from councils for councillors to serve on the PCP.  Each PCP will comprise of a minimum of 10 elected members from local authorities within the associated police force area.  A more detailed report on the establishment of a PCP is included on the agenda for this meeting.

8.             The PCC will also have a fundamental impact on CSPs (Safer Vale).  Currently the Police Authority are considered a 'responsible authority' under the Crime and Disorder Act 1988.  PCCs will not be considered a 'responsible authority', therefore will not be a member of the CSP.  However PCCs will be able to hold CSPs to account  if the PCC is of the view that the CSP is not carrying out its crime and disorder reduction functions in an efficient and effective manner. 

9.             The elected PCC will have to decide what support they require to fulfil their role.  However they must appoint a chief of paid staff and a chief finance officer.  Other staff will be appointed by the PCC based on their requirements, however all staff salaries and functions will have to published.

10.        The PCC will have several options to them as the commissioner of crime and disorder services; 

To retain current funding levels to CSPs, 

invest most of the funding into front line policing, with little funding for community safety preventative measures, 

Or commission all services, with the CSP having to compete with voluntary, charitable and private sector providers.    

11.        The Safer Vale Partnership are preparing for the election of the PCC by ensuring that  services that are currently commissioned are delivering robust outcomes that can be evidenced through effective evaluations.  Joint working opportunities are being reviewed with Bridgend CSP in terms of merging functions to reduce costs and provide efficiencies without impacting on service delivery.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

12.        The PCC will be able to provide crime and disorder reduction grants to any organisation or person with their force area.  However in order to provide this funding to the PCC, the Home Office has subsequently reduced CSP funding by 60% over 2010-2012.

13.        From April 2013 all Home Office community safety funding will go directly to the PCC.

14.        Welsh Government Funding will remain with CSPs.

15.        Currently the funding received from the Home Office contributes salary costs for the Partnership Analyst, ASB/PPO Co-ordinator, ASB administration support, Community Engagement Co-ordinator and Partnership Support Assistant.  If the PCC does not continue to fund CSPs then it will mean that the posts will not be sustainable.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

16.        It is envisaged that the introduction of PCCs will be well structured with a robust legal backing, however this is a new venture for Local Authorities and Police forces alike.  Potential legal implications are unknown both in terms of content and scale.

Crime and Disorder Implications

17.        The crime and disorder implications following the introduction of the PCCs will be far reaching.  The PCCs will be directly accountable to the public in terms of setting crime and disorder priorities.  The approach the PCC takes to working with CSPs will inevitability impact on crime and disorder in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

18.        Elections for the PCC are open to any member of the public.  The only criteria being that they must be over 18, be a British Commonwealth or EU citizen and be registered to vote in the force area in which they stand.  Therefore there are no perceived equal opportunity implications. However, a candidate would have to pay £5,000 to be able to take part in the election process. This may prevent some people from putting themselves forward for election as a PCC.

Corporate/Service Objectives

19.        The Safer Vale Partnership is responsible for delivering a number of key objectives to reduce overall crime and disorder within the Vale of Glamorgan.  Following the introduction of PCCs these corporate and service objectives could still stand.

Policy Framework and Budget

20.        This report is for consideration only.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

21.        Councillor Paul Church (Cabinet Member)

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

22.        Housing and Public Protection

Background Papers

Local Government Group - Police and Crime Commissioners, A Guide for Councils.

 

Contact Officer

Deborah Gibbs / Safer Vale Manager / Community Safety

 

Officers Consulted

Alun Billinghurst - Head of Public Protection

Safer Vale Partnership co-ordinators

 

Responsible Officer:

Peter H Evan, Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services

 

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