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).
The 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 December meeting was broadcast live on Facebook, you can watch it here.
Communications with Victims of Crime
Marc Hole, Director of Policy and Partnership for the OPCC, started with issues that the public have contacted him about, he stated “I have had several victims contact me expressing their dissatisfaction about communication from the police, please can you tell me how you aim to improve this communication which is an essential part of communication.”
Deputy Chief Constable (CC) John Riley, expressed his disappointment about the dissatisfaction. He said that they take their communications for victims of crime seriously as it’s an essential part of the service they offer to victims. He also explained the victims code which offers twelve rights for victims, one of which is victim contact. The rights do not have a specific number of times victims should be updated, however within Avon and Somerset, as a minimum victims will be updated every 28 days.
Marc Hole, followed up on this, asking Deputy CC, “If a victim is in a position where they haven’t heard from the police, but they feel that they should have, what would be your advice to them?”
Deputy CC White explained that if they haven’t received contact after within the 28 days, they should contact the police. He said if you have the contact details of the officer, call or message/email them directly and if you do not have that then call 101and they can plan for the officer to contact them. He also stated that if someone is dissatisfied, they can make a complaint. You can do this here.
National Child Protection Report
PCC Mark Shelford, moved onto his next item on the agenda about the National Child Protection Report published on the 24th of November . He stated, “I think everyone can agree protecting our children is one of the most important things that you as the police do, so when I read this report, I was concerned… One of the recommendations requires an immediate response – it recommends that you review senior representation in local safeguarding partnership agreements.”
CC Sarah Crew, explained that local safeguarding partnerships align to local authority areas, meaning there are ten sets of partnership arrangements, five safeguarding children and five safeguarding adults. In Avon and Somerset, the representation to date has been in Bristol and Somerset, a superintendent, because they are the local policing commanders there; but in North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and BANES, the local commanders are Chief Inspectors – HMICFRS fed back that in these areas. CC Crew immediately reviewed and strengthened the arrangements. By enrolling all the local policing commanders on the public protection and safeguarding leaders programme, so they will all definitely have the skills, knowledge, and experience to do the role.
PCC spoke more broadly, he stated “the service you are providing to children… from the report is just not good enough – what are the key things you are doing to address the findings in the report, beyond this particular rank question?”
CC Sarah Crew, started by stating they had nine recommendations from the HMICFRS where they have been given six weeks to prepare and submit an action plan. The recommendations went from how the Police manage to register sex offenders to how internet child online offences are investigated to how uniform response officers use their powers over police protection. There is an action plan for each recommendation, and CC Crew stated that each action plan must have an action owner.
Sarah Crew also revealed some of the positive feedback Avon and Somerset Police received upon the report, one being “specialist child protection officers conduct high quality child centre investigations”.
PCC, then also stated that the public that have spoken to him are very concerned about child sexual exploitation online. He asked, “how confident are you that you have the mechanisms, techniques, technology to be able to combat this horrendous crime?”
CC Crew stated that the technology is there, and as they move into artificial intelligence, they need to up their game at pace. She said that Avon and Somersets resources are not efficient to meet the demand at the speed and the pace that is required, which is what the team have taken away to have a look at.
PCC closed the meeting:
“Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and my Director of Policy and Partnerships thank you for your time today in answering these questions.
“I want to wish everybody a very happy and safe Christmas and a peaceful new year.
“We will be back in the new year and our next meeting will be on January 18th at 9:30am.”