The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has recently received many contacts from local people regarding the prosecution of those responsible for the toppling of the Edward Colston statue on Sunday 7 June. We have provided answers to many of the frequently asked questions below:
Q. How is the PCC holding Avon and Somerset Police to account on their response to the Black Lives Matter protests and the criminal damage of the Edward Colston statue?
The role of the PCC is to be the voice of local people in policing and to hold the Chief Constable to account. The aim of all PCCs is to ensure the delivery of an effective and efficient police service within their force area. The PCC continues to take feedback and comments from local people with the aim of improving the quality of the policing service and for organisational learning.
Following the Black Lives Matter protests in Bristol the PCC has held regular meetings with the Chief Constable in order to hear updates on the progress of the policing investigation. Through these updates the PCC is able to hold the police to account.
The police hold regular meetings including the Police and Crime Board, Constabulary Management Board and additional Strategic Coordination Groups specifically related to this issue. A representative from the PCCs team is present at all of the above meetings to ensure the police are held to account in their actions.
Q. Why did the police not intervene on the day?
The police make operational decisions everyday based on the assessment of a score of the threat, harm and risk presented in any given situation. Part of that consideration is also resourcing.
The duty of the police is to protect life and property, prevent crime where possible and investigate without fear or favour when crime takes place.
The command team used the National Decision Making Model, part of national policing policy, and based their course of action on what they assessed as the proportionate way to respond to avoid escalation, injuries and further disorder
A thorough in investigation is underway and a public appeal has been issued by Avon and Somerset Police to identify a number of people they want to speak to in connection with what happened to the statue.
Q. Is Superintendent Andy Bennett going to lose his job?
The PCC and the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset are very supportive of the decisions taken by the wider command team, including Andy Bennett on the day. Andy Bennett is not at risk of losing his job.
The PCC and Chief Constable discussed policing decisions made on the day in their regular Facebook Live web chat.
Q. Why is the PCC allowing the offenders to be investigated and prosecuted?
The PCC is an elected official. It is enshrined in law, under the 2011 Police and Social Responsibility Reform Act of 2011, that political figures do not have the power to interfere in police investigations or operational policing decisions.
A PCC cannot instigate a police investigation, nor can a PCC stop a crime from being investigated, that is the job of the police without influence of political figures. Nor can a PCC make a decision on whether a crime that has been investigated should be prosecuted; that is a decision for the Crown Prosecution Service.
The role of a PCC is to hold the Chief Constable to account for an efficient and effective delivery of the Police and Crime Plan and take feedback and comments from members of the public aiming to improve the quality of policing service and for organisational learning. The PCC is also responsible for the policing budgets and oversight of police complaints.
Q. How is the PCC different to the Chief Constable?
The PCC and Chief Constable, as heads of both organisations, work together to deliver an efficient and effective police service.
The role of the PCC is to be the voice of local people in policing and to hold the Chief Constable to account. The aim of all PCCs is to ensure the delivery of an effective and efficient police service within their force area.
PCCs are responsible for the ‘totality of policing’ (all of policing, not just some parts of it) but it is important that they enable the police service and Chief Constable to operate independently. Where appropriate, the PCC will seek clarification, further information or query the activity of the police to provide scrutiny on behalf of local people.
PCCs will ensure that community needs are met by the police effectively. They work in partnership with a range of agencies at local and national level to ensure there is a unified approach to preventing and reducing crime.
The Chief Constable is the most senior police officer in Avon and Somerset Police, they lead and make decisions on all aspects of operational policing. The Chief Constable must deliver an effective police force and has direct control over the force, its officers and staff. They are politically independent and are accountable to the PCC.
Q. Will the police still take action in the future to prevent and disrupt disorder?
The police will always take action to deter, disrupt and prevent crime wherever possible.
When large scale events are known about in advance, officers will always liaise with the organisers and partner agencies and make sure a proportionate policing plan is put in place. The plan may include a command structure being implemented involving specially-trained officers experienced in public order policing.
Decisions by police on prioritisation of reports of crime are always made based on the threat, harm and risk presented in any situation, responding proportionately to protect life and property and, of course, resourcing is also a consideration. Where police are unable to attend or prevent a crime from happening they will always investigate.
Q. How many have been arrested in connection with the incident?
There is an active police investigation ongoing into this incident.
As part of the investigation a media appeal has been issued by the police to help identify and trace a number of people that they want to speak to in connection with the incident.
The appeal can be found on the Avon and Somerset Police website.
Any updates about arrests made, or other developments, as a result of the investigation will also be shared on the Avon and Somerset Police website.
Q. How I do share my views with the PCC?
If you would like to share your views with the PCC, you can do so on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or by sending an email to: email@example.com
Q. How do I make a complaint?
- 1. I want to express my support for the Constabulary and the policing approach to the Black Lives Matter protest.
Your email will be collated by our Contacts Team and the PCC will be made aware of your views. We will also share them with the Constabulary.
- 2. I want to make a complaint about the policing response or the officers in charge of the Black Lives Matter protest.
If you are writing to make a complaint about the service provided or the conduct of a police officer below the rank of Chief Constable then you can make a complaint, if you have not already done so, to the Professional Standards Department (PSD) of Avon and Somerset Police.
To make a complaint online, please complete a form on the Avon and Somerset Police website at: https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/contact-us/complaints/ .
Alternatively, you can write as much detail as possible and post your complaint to the Professional Standards Department, Police HQ, Valley Road, Portishead, BS20 8QJ.
You can also email: ProfessionalStandardsDepartment@avonandsomerset.pnn.police.uk .
The Professional Standards Department of Avon and Somerset Police manage complaints against the Police, handled locally and under the direction and control of the Chief Constable, unless it is most serious and then it is investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). The Police and Crime Commissioner has no statutory power to investigate allegations of inappropriate conduct by Police Officers below the rank of Chief Constable or against the quality of policing service. However, the PCC has a statutory duty to have oversight of Avon and Somerset Police in handling these complaints and we take this very seriously.
The PCC will be monitoring the complaints received about this incident closely and will work with the Professional Standards Department to provide oversight throughout, ensuring that all complaints are being dealt with fairly, efficiently and in accordance with IOPC statutory guidelines.
- 3. I want to make a complaint against the Chief Constable
If you wish to make a formal complaint against the Chief Constable then information on how to do that is available here. If you have reflected your intention to complain in your email then our Contact Team will ensure it is recorded and processed as soon as possible within 10 working days. Please ensure you include all the supporting information outlining your specific allegations.
- 4. I want to make a complaint against the Police and Crime Commissioner
If you wish to make a formal complaint against the Police and Crime Commissioner then information on how to do that is available here. Please include all the supporting information outlining your specific allegations.