Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright Pulls Out of North Area Committee Appearance


Wednesday, February 5th, 2014. 8:12pm

Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright was due to attend the Cambridge North Area Committee on the 56th of February 2014.

As of the time of writing, the evening before the meeting, the agenda lists item seven as:

Police and Crime Commissioner: Sir Graham Bright – 8.30pm
Presentation followed by an opportunity for public questions.

I sought to publicise this appearance in the days running up to the meeting, only to be told by Cllr Ian Manning that the commissioner had withdrawn:

I met Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright on Wednesday the 5th of February 2014 before a meeting of Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel and took the opportunity to ask him why he was not attending the meeting:

Richard Taylor : Commissioner why have you pulled out of the North Area Committee on Thursday?

Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright : Erm because they changed the time.

Richard Taylor : The North Area Committee has been scheduled for months though.

Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright’s Chief of Staff : Richard the meeting is about to start.

Richard Taylor : The chair has just said you can have a few minutes to get your tea and coffee.

Richard Taylor : So you think the councillors have changed the time do you? And that’s your reason why you can’t turn up.

Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright: [Silence]

I don’t think it ought be part of the Chief of Staff’s role to seek to protect Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright from questions from members of the public.

The time of the North Area Committee has been known for a long time. The area committee often has a long agenda and while attempts are sometimes made to give items time-slots within the evening often these are just guides (with the exception of the start of the main part of the meeting, which follows consideration of planning items).

Given the agenda is full of policing related items, in addition to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s own agenda item, and policing related items are invariably raised in the open forum, I would have expected the Commissioner to be planning on attending for a reasonable period of the meeting, say from 19.30 till 21.30 or so at least.

Policing items include local councillors democratically setting the local police priorities; and having the opportunity to hold the police to account for their performance against the previous priorities. Also on the agenda is input from the North Area to setting the priorities for Cambridge’s Community Safety Partnership (which in part are effectively the city wide policing priorities).

North Area Councillors are currently unsure if they actually have local priority setting powers delegated to them. While the commissioner has expressly given this delegated power in person to the East Area Committee at a recent meeting of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign North Area councillor Ian Manning said that the last he had heard was Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright saying he would be the only one setting priorities (which was his initial position).

That Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright has pulled out has been confirmed by the chairman of the North Area Committee. It appears the Police and Crime Commissioner has pulled out at the last minute. Cllr Mike Pitt has tweeted:

5 comments/updates on “Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright Pulls Out of North Area Committee Appearance

  1. Brian Johnson

    I’m a little confused: the NACM is on the 6th Feb 2014 isn’t it? In your opening sentence you say that it’s on the 5th Feb. Typo?

  2. Richard Taylor Article author

    The Cambridge News has covered this:

    http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/News/Anger-after-police-boss-Sir-Graham-Bright-pulls-out-of-Cambridge-meeting-for-THIRD-time-20140206104551.htm

    The article reveals this refusal is the third time the commissioner has pulled out of appearing at the North Area Committee. The reason given for the non-attendance is the “9pm finishing time for the meeting was too late”.

    A statement from the commissioner says:

    it was known that he likes to try to stay for the operational policing part of the agenda which had been scheduled for 9.30pm

    However the Commissioner walked out of the West Central Area Committee as the local police priority setting got underway so he doesn’t have a track record of liking to stay for what he calls the “operational policing part of the agenda”.

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      Local police priority setting is not “operational”; councillors set priorities but have no direct influence over operational policing.

      The role of local councillors at the settting local priorities for North Cambridge is directly comparable with the kind of priority setting the Police and Crime Commissioner carries out at a force wide level, and which the Community Safety Partnership carries out on a city wide basis.

      Operational priority setting, and decision making, is carried out by the police alone with no outside interference. Operational decisions ie. where to deploy resources, who to arrest, who to charge, who to prosecute are for the police and the police alone (with the CPS taking a role in prosecution decisions, but ultimate responsibility lying with the police).

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