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New Chair appointed for Scrutiny of Police Powers Panel

SOPP Chair and Vice Chair
A group of local people, who are helping Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens monitor the use of police powers, have selected a new Chair at their latest meeting.

Evearl Walker is elected by Panel members as Chair and the two Vice Chairs also elected are Adeela Shafi and David Woodward. 12 of the 18 members on the Scrutiny of Police Powers Panel came together to review body worn video camera footage of the police use of Taser and stop and search.

The new Panel (whose first meeting was in June 2017) have been set up to not only help look at the use of Taser and stop and search, but also body worn video and the wider use of force by the police, acting as a ‘critical friend’ to Avon and Somerset Constabulary – on behalf of the PCC - by providing feedback and learning points.

Sue Mountstevens said: “I would like to thank everyone who took the time to apply to be part of the Panel.  There was an incredible amount of interest in the process and over 25 applications submitted.  It was great to see the whole Panel of 18 people come together for their first meeting in June and to be able to thank them for the new role they’ve taken on.

“It’s really important that we involve local people in all aspects of policing to ensure we can continually improve the service.  Being open and transparent is very important to our local communities and I welcome the Panel’s independent and challenging views on the use of police powers.”

At the first meeting, attendees heard from the Avon and Somerset Police Lead for Stop and Search, Chief Superintendent Ian Smith, the Communications Department’s Chief Inspector Paul Wigginton and Lead Taser Trainer, PC Karl Waltho, with attendance also by a UNISON representative and Police Federation representative. At the second meeting in September 2017 the members received information on Police Officer training regarding engagement with people with mental health issues. 

New Chair Evearl has lived in the Avon and Somerset Force area for over 30 years, first residing in Bristol before moving to Bath.  As part of his continued development, Evearl has recently graduated with a degree in Risk and Security Management from the Institute of Criminal Justice Department, Portsmouth University.  It is his interest in the Criminal Justice System that made him want to apply to be on the Panel.

Speaking after the meeting, following his appointment, Evearl said: “I am amazed at being elected Chair. I am also very honoured in accepting this position. I would like to thank all present Panels member in participating in the election process and looking forward to working with all members and the PCC.”

The Panel members have agreed to attend quarterly meetings to review a sample of files and footage on the use of police powers.  Each time the Panel meet they will produce a report of their findings – with a response added by the Constabulary – for submission to the PCC for oversight and publication. 

To view the Reports written by the Panel, click here.

Posted on Thursday 19th October 2017
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