Last Tuesday (7 February), PCC Mark Shelford put questions relating to funding, robbery and police misconduct to Chief Constable Sarah Crew at the quarterly Performance and Accountability Board.
The meeting was broadcast live and sees the PCC discharge one of his most important legal duties, which is to hold the Chief Constable to account for delivering policing that is efficient, effective and legitimate.
At the beginning of the meeting, the PCC gave an update regarding his recent proposal, which was approved by the Police and Crime Panel, to increase the precept by £15 a year for the average band D household.
The PCC sought reassurance from the Chief Constable regarding budgets and how she will identify future savings. The Chief Constable explained that she will continue to explore opportunities to release their efficiency and productivity by using technology to automate even more processes.
The PCC and Chief Constable also discussed the importance of working with partners in other public services to reduce the demand the police receive when it sits outside of their remit.
Questions then focused on tackling disproportionality and racism, and the force’s journey towards becoming a more representative workforce, noting the particular struggles to attract Black people to join the police service.
Chief Constable Sarah Crew outlined the progress the organisation is making under the national Police Race Action Plan and the local Tackling Disproportionality report, for which the Chief Constable is leading the response on behalf of Avon and Somerset criminal justice partners.
The PCC then asked if a representative workforce would help to tackle the disproportionate use of police powers against Black people. The Chief Constable explained that better representation will not solve the problem alone but is needed alongside a culture change and learning from critical incidents.
Following this, the PCC asked performance questions relating to drugs and robbery with the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable Nikki Watson explaining how repurposing Op Remedy will enable more proactive operations that have a clear perpetrator focus. Op Remedy will also offer enhanced investigative support for issues like County Lines and serious acquisitive crime, ensuring Avon and Somerset Police has a better chance of bringing offenders to justice.
Finally, PCC Mark Shelford asked questions relating to His Majesty’s Inspectorate for Constabulary and Fire Rescue Service’s (HMICFRS) recent report focusing on vetting, misconduct and misogyny in the police service. Questions included change in circumstances and re-vetting, investigating Avon and Somerset Police’s IT, and what constitutes misconduct and gross misconduct. Chief Constable Sarah Crew explained some of the work being done and emphasised that we will not become complacent, especially in regards to vetting and enhanced checks, and acknowledges there is always more to be done.
Since the meeting, Avon and Somerset Police has confirmed in the last give years there are eight serving police officers who were found guilty at a gross misconduct hearing but not dismissed; these were all hearings chaired by independent LQCs rather than the Chief Constable.
“Many thanks to Chief Constable Sarah Crew and Deputy Chief Constable Nikki Watson for joining me at my Performance and Accountability Board.
“The meeting is an opportunity to be open and transparent with local people and partners, and address their policing and crime concerns.
“From next month, we will be changing the format of this meeting. The Board will now be broadcast once a month for 30 minutes with the next meeting happening on 9 March at 4.30pm.”PCC Mark Shelford