Thomas Bridge 23 May 2013

MPs call for PCC register to combat ‘maverick’ decisions

Police and crime commissioners (PCCs) must come under greater local scrutiny to restrict unconventional decision-making, MPs have concluded.

Following the publication of the first PCC register, the Home Affairs Committee warned a ‘massive gap’ exists between the activities of PCCs across the country and has urged the Government to commission a full national register to aid cross comparison.

Committee chair, Rt. Hon Keith Vaz, said: ‘A system of local scrutiny makes sense for PCCs, but the public cannot possibly judge whether their PCC is upholding the standards of the office and giving them a good deal unless they make a comparison with other PCCs.

‘Some commissioners have already failed to meet the deadline for publishing information online, but there is no one in Government keeping track.’

Vaz pointed to the suspension of a chief constable without consultation in Lincolnshire, alongside controversial appointments which were not given appropriate examination by Police and Crime Panels (PCPs) in Kent, as evidence of ‘maverick decision making’ which needed to be guarded against.

Responding to the findings, the Local Government Association (LGA) affirmed the effectiveness of PCPs in holding PCCs to account, arguing that appointments of deputies put forward by PCCs have not been recommended in one in six cases.

Cllr Mehboob Khan, chair of the LGA's safer and stronger communities board, said: ‘PCPs have been making effective use of the powers they have been provided with by Parliament to hold police and crime commissioners to account since the November elections last year.

‘Although the powers are limited in scope, discussions at PCPs can provide a good check and balance, and many panels have made valuable comments in respect of the appointment of deputies and other issues, some of which have been accepted and acted upon.’

Labour’s shadow minister for policing, David Hanson, said: ‘The Government should not only heed the Committee’s call for a national register of interests for PCCs but also address clear weaknesses in the system.’

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