Posted: Tuesday 22nd October 2013
There’s been a lot of discussion this week about police watchdogs and the power the police have to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by their officers. I know from speaking to local people that many of you do not agree with the police marking their own homework. Many of you tell me that you do not trust the police to investigate themselves. Certainly weeks like this with all that is happening nationally do not help public trust and confidence in the police and in fact taints the good officers who are as appalled as I am about the damaging confidence in the police.
I, and several other Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales have been closely watching ways to look at complaints. An absolute essential is there has to be independence, openness, transparency and local accountability. I agree that the IPCC should have complete independent jurisdiction over serious and sensitive complaints. However I would like to see local independence regarding the high volume complaints such as incivility. If positively managed complaints can be turned into action and improve the service for the better. This also improves the reputation of the police and is something that I have positively encouraged. I want to see people complain if they are unhappy with the service they receive and I would like to see that reflected within any new process of responding to local people’s concerns.
As Police and Crime Commissioner I have no power to investigate police complaints. However, what I can do is put checks and balances in place to ensure that complaints are investigated appropriately and lessons are learned. This is why I set up the Independent Resident’s Panel, to ensure that local people could be involved in reviewing police complaints. Their first report has just been published on my website and everyone can see that their recommendations and robust independent views.
Next week we will be celebrating the very best of policing within Avon and Somerset at the Neighbourhood Policing awards. These awards are extra special because the nominations come from residents. It really highlights the fantastic work going on at a neighbourhood level by the police. The features in the Post really show how much these officers and staff mean to your community. I am especially pleased that we are able to honour the achievements of volunteers, whether that’s officers in the Special Constabulary or volunteers working to make our streets safer. Their efforts are commendable especially given that they are often volunteering on top of their day-job or family commitments and I look forward to congratulating all our award winners next week.
The Constabulary have launched a consultation on plans to re-shape the way it works. There are a number of reasons why the time is right for this and it’s not all driven by cuts. They are responding to the views I’ve heard from residents and preparing for a number of changes that will happen next year such as moving into a number of new buildings.
Many people have said the police can and should do much more to respond to the needs of victims and local communities. It is really important to me that policing reflects local needs and I would encourage everyone to have their say on the consultation before October 26. Share your views at www.consultation.avonandsomerset.police.uk