With Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) having been elected for the third time on 6 May (2021) in 40 force areas across England and Wales, it felt like the right time to recap on the roles and responsibilities of these strategic policing stakeholders. In the time that the PCC structure has been in place, the role has evolved and the group as a collective is providing a pivotal means for continued collaboration across policing in the UK.  

Every force area is represented by a PCC, except Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and London, where PCC responsibilities lie with the Mayor, and in the City of London it sits with the Police Authority.

The role of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) was created by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to replace police authorities in England and Wales (with the exception of Greater London and the City of London). This did not cover Scotland and Northern Ireland where policing is devolved.

In Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority serves in a similar capacity for Police Scotland.

In Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Policing Board fulfils a similar role for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Key Responsibilities of PCCs, PFCCs and Mayors

PCCs

Police and crime commissioners are elected to hold police force to account. Their aim is to cut crime and to ensure police forces are effective. 

Under the terms of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 Act, PCCs must:

  • secure an efficient and effective police for their area
  • appoint the Chief Constable, hold them to account, and if necessary dismiss them
  • set the police and crime objectives for their area through a police and crime plan
  • set the force budget and determine the precept [the amount people pay through council tax for policing]
  • contribute to the national and international policing capabilities set out by the Home Secretary
  • bring together community safety and criminal justice partners to make sure local priorities are joined up. 

Since PCCs were introduced, their remit has expanded to include responsibility for commissioning the majority of victims’ services and the ability to take on governance of the local fire and rescue service.

PFCCs

There are currently four Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners (PFCCs) in Essex, Staffordshire, North Yorkshire and Northamptonshire. PFCCs are also elected by the public and as well as holding the police to account, they also scrutinise the fire and rescue service by:

  • Setting the fire and rescue objectives for their area through a fire and rescue plan;
  • Ensuring the fire and rescue service budgets are spent where it matters most; and
  • Appointing the Chief Fire Officer, holding them to account for the delivery of their objectives and if necessary, dismissing them.

Mayors

There are three police force areas where, on 6th May 2021, people elected a Mayor who will exercise PCC functions, instead of electing a PCC – the Metropolitan Police Service, Greater Manchester, and West Yorkshire. The powers and functions that these Mayors exercise in relation to policing are the same as in police force areas where PCCs are elected, and the Mayors in these three police force areas are accountable to the public at the ballot box in the same way that PCCs are in other police force areas.

Collaborative Working in the Community

PCCs, PFCCs and Mayors who exercise PCC functions also work with local councils and other organisations to promote and enable joined up working on community safety and criminal justice.

The PCC, PFCC or Mayor with PCC functions does not “run” the police or fire service. Chief Constables and Chief Fire Officers continue to be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the police and fire services respectively, but they are accountable to the public via the Commissioner.

PCCs, PFCCs and Mayors who exercise PCC functions are single, directly elected individuals ensuring the public are protected, providing greater opportunities for collaboration and more effective scrutiny of public services. They also ensure that there is an effective policing contribution to national partnership arrangements to protect the public from other cross-boundary threats.

Police and Crime Commissioners have committed to expanding their work with their colleagues and partners through national networks that bring the right people together to explore and deliver solutions to cross cutting issues. The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Policy Teams supports PCCs on a number of these networks.

Current networks include:

National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network

The National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network (NATMSN) brings together Police and Crime Commissioners from across England and Wales, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, The National Police Chief Council (NPCC) lead Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer and the Home Office Modern Slavery Unit to discuss and improve how we work together to combat human trafficking and modern slavery in all its forms.

The network was launched in February 2016 and was created and is chaired by Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

More information can be found here.

Non-Violence Reduction Unit Network

There are a number of force areas, despite having high incidences of serious violence, are not receiving any additional funding to establish Violence Reduction Units (VRUs). Therefore the APCC has set up a network for these Non VRU OPCCs to share experiences and best practice for maximising existing resources and opportunities. This Network met for the first time in February 2021 and has members from 10 Offices of PCCs.

Sport and Youth Crime Prevention Board

Launched by the Derbyshire PCC at its inaugural meeting, the Board’s mission is to create a unified voice for PCCs across the country who recognise the power of sport in preventing young people entering the criminal justice system and are committed to investing in sports-related programmes.

It will act as a learning hub for all forms of sports-based crime prevention work and will lobby Government to align funding strategies and influence future policy decisions, priorities and actions.

More information can be found here.

Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APPC)

All PCCs, PFCCs and regional mayors are members of the APCC, alongside the City of London Police Authority and Jersey Police Authority.

The APCC offers the following services to members:

  • Provides Information on national policing policy issues and legislation.
  • Consults PCCs to enable them to develop policy positions and to influence change.
  • Facilitates the leadership of PCCs on national governance structures such as the College of Policing, National Crime Agency, other police professional bodies, and fire and rescue bodies.
  • Provides a range of opportunities for members to come together to debate and discuss national policing and criminal justice policy and engage with senior stakeholders.
  • Assists PCCs to share practice and identify ways to achieve efficiencies through collaboration.
  • Support PCCs seeking to take on and fulfil fire and rescue governance responsibilities.

Susannah Hancock, Chief Executive of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), explains how the Association supports Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) by speaking with a common and shared voice to Government and Parliamentarians in this recent video.

PCCs Making a Difference

The APCC produces a number of ‘In Focus’ reports, under the campaign strapline, “PCCs Making A Difference”, to help publicise the innovative work of PCCs – particularly their work with partner organisations – to support victims of crime and reduce re-offending.

Seven ‘In Focus’ reports have been produced to date. They are high-level digital documents which provide a snapshot of the varied victims’ partnership work that PCCs are involved in. They can be found here.

APCC Business Plan

The APCC Business Plan 2020-2022, produced during the pandemic, sets out key priorities and what the APCC expect to deliver over this period. This plan has been developed in close consultation with their membership and has sought input from wider stakeholders throughout. A new delivery structure ensures that they are better able to deliver against their primary priorities of excellence in policing and safer communities, alongside providing a national voice for PCCs, victims and the public. This business plan sets out how the APCC will act to further develop and transform policing and wider criminal justice and strengthen public trust and can be viewed in full here.

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