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Sue Mountstevens making policing as open and transparent as possible

Independent Residents Panel

Members of the Independent Residents Panel

Volunteers that make up Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens’ Independent Residents Panel, are this month marking the one year anniversary of the initiative.

The innovative scheme was introduced by the PCC as part of her pledge to make policing as open and transparent as possible, enabling local people to scrutinise various aspects of policing.

Since its introduction, the Independent Residents Panel has featured in the Guardian, listed under best ideas at number three when they ran a piece Police Crime Commissioners: their five best, and five worst ideas’.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "The aim of the Panel is to challenge the police to uphold more complaints and where appropriate, say sorry in plain English at the earliest opportunity. They then learn from any mistakes by cascading learning across the Constabulary, to then get it right every time.

"I have always been clear there is a standard and expectation from the police and the service they give to residents and in setting up the Panel I saw the hunger from local people to get involved in improving policing."

Since the example set up by the PCC in Avon and Somerset, several PCCs have followed suit in including local residents to volunteer and oversee the process of handling complaints against the police on behalf of local people.

The Panel consists of 10 independent residents over the age of 18, who live or work in the Avon and Somerset area and who meet at least quarterly to monitor the Avon and Somerset Constabulary complaints handling process and highlight good practice.

Throughout the course of the past year the Panel have looked at various issues, some more specific than others, for example in one of their meetings they have looked at stop and search complaint files.

Sue Lloyd, who works for a national charity, is a member and Vice Chair of the Panel and has written a blog about her experience on the Panel.

In her ‘Marking the police homework – our first year’ blog she writes: "Our role is to provide an independent citizen’s review of how Avon and Somerset police deal with complaints made against officers or police staff. We live in different parts of the areas, some of us work and some are retired, we are different ages. But we all want transparency about how the police conduct their business."

To read the extended version of Sue’s blog please click here.

Each time the Panel meet they produce a report of their findings which they submit to the PCC and the Constabulary’s Head of Professional Standards Department provides a response. To read the findings and the Constabulary’s response click here.

For more information about the role of the Panel members, the skills and experience criteria the volunteers are required to fulfil, more about the volunteers themselves and for further information, legislation and guidance click here.

Posted on Monday 29th September 2014
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