Posted: Thursday 30th January 2014
I had to attend an unexpected visit to the Home Affairs Select Committee on Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC). This is a very scary task, I am not a seasoned politician, and I stood as a Commissioner to keep politics out of policing. Equally it is not something you can really say ‘no’ too.
The questions were about more than just Commissioners but also a lengthy discussion about the accuracy of crime figures and the Independent Review of the Police Federation, as well as questions about the set-up structure and size of the office of Commissioners. I have increased my staff team but have always been mindful to stay within the costs of the previous police authority. My office costs equates to 0.5% of the police budget which is below the average of PCC costs in England and Wales.
I was also asked about deputy PCCs. I believe that if people are going to have a deputy they should go out to the electorate on a ‘double ticket,’ and be clear with residents who they are voting for. That includes the two people doing the job not just the one that ran the election. However in a time of austerity and reducing police budgets it is hard to justify wages for deputies and I was very conscious of this when I took office in 2012. So I will not be taking on a Deputy for the next two and half years that I am in office.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) reported this week that their investigation of how the police dealt with Mr Ebrahimi prior to his tragic murder will be delayed. While I welcome a thorough and importantly independent investigation by the IPCC I am concerned about the length of time Mr Ebrahimi’s family has to wait for answers as well as the impact this has on local people. When investigations take a long time it feels as if it has been pushed to the long grass and trust and confidence in the process can erode. It is clear that the IPCC do not have the resources to deal with their current workload, which leaves Mr Ebrahimi’s family, local people and the police waiting for answers. I have written to the IPCC Commissioner and the Home Secretary to see if more resources can be found to make sure this investigation is prioritised.
I attended the pilot launch of a new initiative last week called the ‘anti-social behaviour community trigger’. This will mean nothing to residents at the moment but will soon be a very powerful tool in tackling anti-social behaviour, one of my policing priorities. Anyone affected by anti-social behaviour is entitled to use the community trigger if they believe no action has been taken to solve a problem that has been reported to the police, council or housing provider. The trigger then brings all agencies with a responsibility to tackle anti-social behaviour problems together to review the case and to feedback to the victim within 10 days.
I hope that the community trigger will help all the organisations involved focus on victims and give victims the power to make sure that the police or local authorities are taking action if they report something. Community Trigger is currently part of the new Anti-social Behaviour Bill working its way through Parliament and will be available to all residents in the spring. In the meantime to better understand people’s experience and views of anti-social behaviour the police has launched a short survey at www.consultation.avonandsomerset.police.uk. Anti-social behaviour is the single most common reason that local people contact the police and I would encourage residents to share their views.