Role of police and crime commissioners
Police and crime commissioners (PCCs) replaced local policing authorities in England and Wales in 2012.
PCCs are required to determine local policing priorities, publish their police and crime plan, set a local precept and set the annual force budget (including contingency reserves) in consultation with chief constables. The police and crime plan needs to take account of national policing challenges, set out in the ‘Strategic Policing Requirement’.
PCCs have a general duty to consider local authority priorities and to regularly consult and involve the public in the course of carrying out their roles.
Police and crime plans
Shortly after taking office, the PCC set out a five-year police and crime plan (the plan), to cover the tenure of their office, which may be refreshed each year and may be fully reopened at the PCC’s discretion.
The plan clearly sets out the priorities for local policing for the whole force area, and how these are going to be addressed. Essentially it must set out the PCC’s objectives for policing and reducing crime and disorder in the area, how policing resources will be allocated and agreements for funding and reporting on their activity.
The PCC’s role is to ensure that the plan includes and addresses the views on local policing of the electorate; it will be a public document and a key mechanism for the PCC to hold the chief constable to account.
The plan must be published and remain a public document including any updates or amendments made during the usual four-year term of office.
At the end of the financial year the PCC publishes an annual report which sets out progress made by the PCC against the objectives set out in the plan. Alongside this annual report the PCC publishes annual financial accounts, including showing how resources were applied against priorities and how value for money was secured.
PCCs receive their funding from a variety of sources, but the two main sources are from Central Government and the local precept.
The local precept is the portion of your council tax that goes towards paying for policing. It will be subject to the same referendum requirements as local government (triggered on rises which exceed thresholds set by Government).
Working with chief constables
PCCs appoint (and are able to dismiss) chief constables, although the chief constable will appoint all other officers within the force.
The PCC can commission policing services from the chief constable (or from other providers, in consultation with the chief constable). These services shall be set out in the plan where their objectives and funding will be publicly disclosed.
PCCs will be able to require a report from chief constables at any time about the execution of their functions.
Fire and Rescue Services
The Policing and Crime Act 2017 sets out provisions to enable PCCs to take on responsibility for the governance of local fire and rescue services where a local case is made. It also places a new duty on police, fire and rescue and emergency ambulance services to collaborate where it is in the interests of their efficiency or effectiveness.
Essex PCC Roger Hirst will be the first to take on governance of a fire and rescue service in October 2017, after his proposal was approved by the Home Secretary in July 2017. Several other PCCs are currently exploring options for the future governance of fire and rescue services.
PCCs have replaced police authorities in Wales as well as in England. So far as possible, the arrangements in Wales and England are the same, but the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act reflects the Welsh devolution settlement and the specific powers of the National Assembly for Wales and Welsh Ministers.
London and Manchester
London and Greater Manchester have directly elected Mayors. In 2012, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) took over policing in the capital (outside of the City of London). Since May 2017, the Mayor of Greater Manchester has had responsibilities around the governance and budgets relating to Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
The City of London is unique and it has unique policing governance to recognise the fact – it operates on a non-party political basis through its Lord Mayor, aldermen and members of the Court of Common Council. The governance is tailored to the particular institutions and traditions of the City of London and the government does not intend to change that.