Every month Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Shelford holds Chief Constable (CC) Sarah Crew to account in a publicly broadcast live forum called the Performance and Accountability Board (PAB).
PAB gives the PCC a chance to conduct one of his most important legal duties which is to hold the Chief Constable to account in delivering policing that is efficient, effective and legitimate.
The October meeting was broadcast live on Facebook, you can watch it here.
Questions were raised about hate crime, ensuring Police Officers have the correct mindset for dealing with Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) and Domestic Violence Disclosure Schemes.
At the beginning of the session, which preceded this month’s National Hate Crime week, the PCC’s first question was what CC Crew is doing to encourage people to report hate crime to the police.
She revealed that Avon and Somerset Police will be providing activities such as ongoing engagement, which will involve visiting young people in schools, individuals and communities in Mosques, Synagogues and Churches; as well as retailers affected by hate crime.
Sarah Crew assured Mark Shelford that tackling hate crime is a priority at Avon and Somerset Police.
“We want everyone to know they will be met, if they come forward, with a police service who will listen to them, treat them fairly with respect, and provide a good level of service.”
Questions then focussed on other topical issues; the PCC stated he is regularly contacted about Anti-Social Behaviour and asked about the police response to this. He asked CC Crew how she ensures officers have the right mindset when dealing with ASB?
CC Crew explained that the service promise to victims of ASB is being refreshed and launched this month. It sets clear standards and expectations on how officers and staff should deal with reports of ASB. All cases that are targeted at an individual, tend to be a policing matter, even where there is no criminal offence, it is still recorded in their system the same way as a crime would be.
You can report ASB here, or if it’s an emergency dial 999.
You can also report anonymously online at Crimestoppers.
The PCC then handed over to Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner Chief of Staff, Alice Ripley, who moved on to the Avon and Somerset PEEL report – the main assessment of the force by the HM Inspectorate.
One of the areas identified for improvement is the need to reduce the backlog of applications waiting to be processed, which relates to the domestic violence disclosure scheme.
Assistant CC, John Riley, explained that the domestic violence disclosure scheme uses common law powers to disclose information to potential victims of domestic abuse. It is now a statutory element of the Domestic Abuse Act. It allows relevant police information to be disclosed to persons at risk under the right to know, and the right to ask.
Once a disclosure is made, via 101, enquiry office, or through a digital form, there is an expectation on the police to do something to support the victim such as designing a safety plan or onward referral to other partners. If there are not grounds for disclosure, there will still be communication with the victim.
Alice Ripley followed the Assistant CC’s explanation with a follow up question: “Have you actually been able to reduce those backlogs, and will you be able to keep on top of it?”
John Riley explained that there are still backlogs, as they have a vast number of enquiries coming in. Critically, they have now been able to allocate three full time members of staff for this matter.
He went on to reassure the Chief of Staff and PCC that they risk assess and triage all enquiries to make sure the highest risks are dealt with in the first instance.
PCC Mark Shelford closed the meeting:
“Thank you both for coming in. These meetings are really important to show that transparency and holding you to account for delivery of the Police and Crime Plan, I am very grateful.”
The next PAB will be on 14 November at 14:00. Please follow our Facebook page to see all OPCC updates and for the link to the next PAB: