Calling Police and Crime Commissioner’s Staff Before the Police and Crime Panel


Sunday, June 14th, 2015. 1:12am


Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel Logo

I have submitted the following question to the Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel meeting on the 17th of June 2015:

At the meeting of the Police and Crime Panel on the 15th of December 2014 the chairman Cllr McGuire told the candidate for the position of Chief Finance Officer and Deputy Chief Executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner that they would not be called to appear before the panel if they were appointed.

Chairman McGuire’s statement suggested the Police and Crime Panel will not call any of the staff of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to appear before it.

The panel did not minute the statement but I have published a video and transcript of it at:

http://www.rtaylor.co.uk/7141

Did chairman McGuire’s statement reflect a policy position adopted by the panel of not using their power under S29 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to require members of the commissioner’s staff, to attend before the panel and answer questions put to them?

When presenting my question in person at the meeting I intend to give examples of where calling staff to appear before the panel and answer questions could assist the panel in their role scrutinising the decisions and actions of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

When looking into which decisions the Police and Crime Commissioner decides to refer to the panel for scrutiny the panel could all the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Chief of Staff / Chief Executive to ask for information on unreported decisions and decisions which the Police and Crime Commissioner has declined to take.

The question of if the staff at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner view themselves as working for the public or for the Police and Crime Commissioner could also be investigated via a panel session at which officers were called. I was astounded by the suggestion made at the 15 December 2014 meeting that the Police and Crime Commissioner could set a policy of excluding information from accounts and the suggestion officers might go along with that.

The answer given will of course influence my use of the opportunity to ask a supplementary question.

If the chairman’s statement did not reflect the policy of the panel I would ask if the panel, and specifically Cllr McGuire, will write to the Commissioner’s staff with a correction/clarification.

If the statement does reflect the policy of the panel I would note it doesn’t appear to be a published policy position which has been considered at a public meeting of the panel. I would ask if the policy could be considered at a future meeting and suggest the panel’s position is published.

Members of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s staff routinely attend Police and Crime Panel meetings but to-date they have only done so in support of the Police and Crime Commissioner; none have been called to appear in their own right.

I suspect the panel, and specifically the chairman Cllr McGuire, were unaware of their powers.

I submitted the question prior to the deadline on Wednesday the 10th of June

Often the panel are hostile to public questioners, ruling questions out of order, taking up the time in the question slot reading out pre-submitted questions and answers, giving inaccurate answers, and disregarding times for questions and answers set out via the panel’s unanimously agreed rules of procedure.

Staff in the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office

Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner currently employs seventeen staff in his “Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner”.

A recent report published on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s website, perhaps phrased by a whistle-blower, notes:

The Commissioner made a public commitment last year to reduce the running costs of his office from April 2013 by 10% compared to what the Police Authority had previously cost. The Commissioner set the budget for his office for 2013/14 at £866,000 which was an 11% reduction. 2014/15 budget is set at £1,224k

The latest budget, for 2015/16, allocates £1,244,000 for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

2 comments/updates on “Calling Police and Crime Commissioner’s Staff Before the Police and Crime Panel

  1. Richard Taylor Article author

    In order to present the question I need to familiarise myself with the latest rules on the various time-limits. No summary of the rules is provided on the agenda (which would be helpful).

    Section 7.2 of the panel’s rules of procedure cap the public participation section of the meeting to 30 minutes.

    Section 1.7 of the the panel’s rules of procedure state that the rules of the host authority (Peterborough City Council) apply where the panel’s own rules don’t address an issue so questioners need to turn to Part 4, section 1, heading 15 of the Peterborough City Council constitution to find in section 15.7 three minutes are allowed for putting a question. Section 15.9 states three minutes are allowed for answering it.

    Section 7.9 of the panel’s rules of procedure state one minute is allowed for a supplementary question. Section 7.11 states the answer to a supplementary question can take up to two minutes.

    So per submitted question that’s a maximum of nine minutes.

    Section 15.2 of Part 4, section 1 of the Peterborough City Council constitution states the order in which the questions are put is determined by a draw. Cllr McGuire has suggested, but not formally proposed, that questions ought be taken in the order they are received (which puts questioners who wait for the publication of the meeting papers, which occurs just hours before the deadline, at a disadvantage). It’s not been clear to me if draws have actually taken place or if, as chairman, Cllr McGuire has been operating his preferred system despite the unanimously agreed rules.

  2. Richard Taylor Article author

    The meeting minutes record the answer given as:

    Whilst the Panel recognises that it has the power to require members of the Commissioner’s staff to attend to answer any questions, our preferred method of working is to put all questions through the Commissioner in the first instance. The Commissioner may, and indeed does, call upon his team to answer detailed questions where appropriate. The Panel understands that it can ask specific members of staff to appear before it, should it become necessary in order for the Panel to discharge its functions.

    I think it is excellent that the panel has clarified its position.

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