Volunteering to be a Member of Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel Again


Sunday, August 24th, 2014. 3:33pm

Advert on Cambridge City Council website for the vacancy
On Friday I volunteered to become a member of Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel.

I volunteered previously, in October 2012. One of those appointed by the panel in 2012 didn’t attend any meetings of the panel for over a year, and didn’t respond to correspondence from the panel.

Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel appeared quite happy with the situation of a non-attending independent member as they didn’t act once he’d been absent for three months without consent as section 3.25a of the panel arrangements permitted, they waited until he had been absent for around five times that length of time (fifteen months) before acting to remove him. The panel only acted to remove their dud member following media interest. The removal of the previously appointed independent member created the current vacancy.

Police and Crime Panels were established by section 28 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. Paragraph four of Schedule 6 of that act requires at least two independent (non-councillor) members to be appointed to the panel.

Quite why MPs thought councillors ought be joined by non-councillors on the panel isn’t clear, but that is the situation we have. My view is I’d rather have elected councillors fulfilling the role themselves, though allowing others to assist the panel, and use the panel’s powers, through routes such as:

  • A functional and easily accessible public speaking slot at meetings (and a route for making contributions in writing for those who can’t, or don’t want to, attend in person).
  • Co-opting those with a particular interest or expertise in a subject onto the panel for specific meetings, or specific agenda items.

That said, given there are seats on Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel for non-councillors and there are things which are lacking within the existing panel which I could bring I have volunteered. Primarily I think I can contribute an interest in the work of the Police and Crime Commissioner. Councillors have a wide range of responsibilities, often panel members are council leaders or have other significant roles in addition to their positions on the panel. A number of panel members have been open about not having the time, ability, or inclination to even read the information the commissioner proactively publishes on his website about his work.

There is a very high degree of absence and turnover among councillor members of the panel. Independent members can bring continuity; and I have been following the strategic oversight of policing in the force area since well before Police and Crime Commissioners came into existence.

Many of the councillor members of the panel are members of the same party as the Police and Crime Commissioner. I get the impression some think it rude, or not the done thing, to question the work of a fellow party member, even though the purpose of that questioning would be to seek to improve the job that is being done.

Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel – First Twenty Months

Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel has not got off to a great start in its first two years or so of operation. It started off in “shadow” form holding its meetings in private. Even the key first meeting between the Police and Crime Commissioner and members of the panel took place behind closed doors, despite my view, and apparently the view of the Home Office, being that holding such meetings in private was against the law.

When the panel held a confirmation hearing for the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner they questioned the candidate in public but then went into private session to consider the appointment. The panel didn’t clearly resolve to enter private session and didn’t explain why it was necessary. The panel didn’t return to public session, as I would have liked to have seen, to conclude its deliberations, and to vote on its recommendation. Astonishingly no record of the meeting held behind closed doors, or the vote reportedly held, has been published. The minutes don’t even record if decision made or if there was a vote. [Paragraph added 26 August].

Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel cancelled its first routine meeting citing “lack of business”; despite the meeting being scheduled for the January 2013 following the introduction of the role of commissioner in November 2012 and all the decisions the commissioner had taken in relation to the setting up of his approach, organisation and office being available to review. By that time there were also some substantive decisions directly impacting the policing of the area, such as those on call answering which had been made and the panel could have scrutinised.

One of the key meetings of the panel held to-date was held as a committee of the panel which met in private on the 15th of May 2014. That meeting considered the panel’s approach to its core role of scrutinising the commissioner’s decisions.

During the first two years or so of its operation the panel has struggled to keep its webpages up-to-date with basic information such as the identities of panel members and a functional contact address for the panel.

I think transparency and openness are key to the functioning of any public body.

Scrutiny of Police and Crime Commissioner’s Decisions

The panel has a duty, under Section 28(6)(a) of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to:

review or scrutinise decisions made, or other action taken, by the relevant police and crime commissioner in connection with the discharge of the commissioner’s functions;

Cambridgeshire’s panel has decided to allow the Police and Crime Commissioner to decide which decisions it considers for scrutiny. Relatively few decisions have been reported by Cambridgeshire’s commissioner when compared to other commissioners and I’ve identified some decisions which have not been reported that I think the panel ought have considered.

The panel has recently issued an annual report in which it states “from June 2014 the following Policing Plan priorities will scrutinised in depth by theme at each meeting”. It will be interesting to see what actually happens under this proposal. I think its important that the focus within each theme is on the commissioners’ decisions and actions (or lack of them). I hope the consideration by “theme” doesn’t result in too much abstraction which loses the connection between subjects under discussion and the commissioner’s activities. I am concerned such disconnection between what is discussed and what the commissioner has done could be the aim of the new approach.

My Application

As I did in in October 2012 I am publishing my application here in the interests of transparency.

When I requested the details and application form from the panel I received the documents as presented to the July 2014 meeting of the panel.

I made the application despite my experiences of a rather hostile approach to contributions from the public at panel meetings and an expectation that the role will be a challenging and sometimes unpleasant one to fulfill. I think strategic oversight of policing and the wider crime and justice sector is a crucial element of our democratic society and that’s why I’m happy to volunteer to help ensure it is effective in any way I can. I hope I am making a significant positive impact through my activities currently, and want to offer to help in another way if the panel members want that.

Seven candidates applied for the two independent member seats on the panel in 2012; that was when the Police and Crime Commissioners were new. I think Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner and Police and Crime Panel have done very little and have had a very low profile so it will be interesting to see if the level of interest this time round reflects that.

Cambridge City Council’s website carried an advert for the role stating:

People from all sections of the community are encouraged to consider applying – you just need to be passionate about Cambridgeshire and want to make a real difference to local communities.

but the advert slipped in below the core content of the panel’s “Committee details” webpage stated they were looking for someone who:

has knowledge and skills in issues associated with policing and crime reduction, preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and working in partnership to tackle complex issues.

I don’t think the role is one which requires, or would be particularly suited to a professional working in the policing or justice sector. I think the appointment ought be made on merit on and the person the panel think will make the greatest contribution to helping the panel fulfill its role ought be appointed and I hope and expect that is what will occur.

My application

Dear Mandy Long,

I am writing to volunteer to serve as one of the independent (non-councillor) members of Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel.

I would like my application to be considered primarily on the basis of the contributions to the panel’s work I have made using opportunity for “public participation” at public meetings of the panel.

The panel’s application form has been provided to me as an uneditable PDF. I have extracted the questions and addressed them below. I have on too many previous occasions when dealing with arms of state demonstrated my ability to print responses on to paper or PDF forms; I hope it is acceptable that I have chosen not to go through that time-consuming and futile exercise on this occasion.

I submitted my previous application for this role in this manner on the 26th of October 2012 and it appeared to be accepted for consideration. I am disappointed that given my comments then the panel has not updated its procedures.

I would like to note that for a voluntary role a deadline of 5pm on a Friday is unhelpful; especially given the likelihood public sector officers are not going to do anything with applications received until after the weekend.

Personal details

Title (Mr/Mrs/Ms etc)

Mr

Name in full (please also give any other names by which you have been known)

Richard Taylor

I have never formally been known by any other name. I have used a wide variety of online usernames, most notably my Twitter username RTaylorUK, I do not hold a comprehensive list. At various times people have chosen to call me by nicknames, generally these have been abbreviations of my name.

Permanent home address

Milton Road, Cambridge [Details removed from online copy. Redactions to deter spam and identity theft]

How long have you lived at this address?

Since August 2012

If less than five years at this address, please give details of your previous address(es)

On the 19th of October 2012 I asked Peterborough City Council, who are providing the secretariat for the panel, why this information is being requested. I would like to know what is proposed, and further details of what is required, before deciding if to attempt to collate and provide the requested information or not.

Daytime telephone number

[Phone number as shown on the top of very page on this website]

Evening telephone number

[Phone number as shown on the top of very page on this website]

Mobile telephone number

[Phone number as shown on the top of very page on this website]

Email address

[Email address as shown on the top of very page on this website]

Date of birth

[Removed from online copy]

Please say whether there is any special provision, equipment or assistance we can provide to help you attend an interview

None.

References: Please give details of two people, not related to you, who have agreed to be contacted by us about your application. It would be helpful if one referee was familiar with your community activities. We intend to take up references for shortlisted candidates prior to interview. If you do not wish us to contact your referees at that stage then please indicate this clearly.

I have not sought anyone’s agreement to support this application by providing a reference. I note I did publicly seek and provide contact details of individuals willing to provide such a reference in relation to my previous application.

Members of the panel are aware of the manner in which I have sought to contribute to the panel’s activities using the opportunities for “public participation” provided at meetings of the panel.

Please sign and date this form I declare that the information I have given is true and complete.

Signed ….Richard Taylor… Date …22 August 2014.. (I am happy to sign a printed version if required)

Equality monitoring questions

The information in this section will not form part of the recruitment process and will be separated from your application form upon receipt. The information provided will be used for monitoring purposes and to help us to develop our policies and practice. The information provided will be treated confidentially and be subject to the provisions under current equality and data protection legislation. You do not have to answer these questions. However, by answering the questions you will help us to make sure that our recruitment is fair and accessible to everyone.

I have taken the option offered of not answering these questions

Personal history

What is your current employment status and occupation, if any?

I am employed as the director of my own company Sci7 Ltd.

Please give details of part-time and full-time employment, voluntary work, career breaks and any other work you do or have done in the local community. If you do not live in Cambridgeshire and/or have not done so during the past 12 months please include the main location of your work if this is different from your employer’s address.

Sci7 Ltd.

Director of Cambridge based company, which initially specialised in commercial applications of life-science publication, grant, and bioinformatics data, and now also working with UK public sector information and political information.

Clients include many major suppliers of equipment and reagents to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, as well as consultancies, conference organisers, and those running specialist websites.

Work has also been carried out for mySociety, resulting in all votes since the 2010 general election being described and grouped to enable summaries of MPs’ voting positions to be displayed on TheyWorkForYou.com

WhatDoTheKnow.com

Volunteer working on the freedom of information website WhatDoTheyKnow.com. Assisting users and helping develop and act on policies for dealing appropriately with requests to remove information from the site. Also tweeting and writing articles about the site and lobbying for improvements to Freedom of Information law.

Activism, Campaigning, Lobbying, Citizenship

Civic activities carried out in public, and recorded via rtaylor.co.uk and Twitter (RTaylorUK). Regular commentator on local and national matters with some degree of focus on the field of policing, crime and justice.

Previous

Cambridge Applied Polymers Ltd.

Working within the University of Cambridge for a spin-out company conducting commercial technology assessments and developing technologies for engineering functional microstructural formulations for biological materials. Working directly with major multinational clients. Appointed a Director in November 2005. Work resulted in a patent application entitled: Encapsulation of edible oil products and encapsulated edible oil products. No. WO2007034213 (2007)

University of Cambridge – Teaching

Supervisor: Small group teaching of natural science, medical, and veterinary undergraduates. Supervision of students carrying our laboratory based research projects.

University of Cambridge – Research

Novel formulations for complex biological therapeutics, including viruses, DNA, lipids and proteins. Working towards inhalable viral formulations with applications as gene therapy vectors and vaccines. Working closely with Nektar Therapeutics (formerly Bradford Particle Design, and Inhale Therapeutics) on particulate biological formulation using the company’s specialist techniques within their facilities, as well as with a number of companies based in the Cambridge area.

Please give details of any involvement in local community activities not already mentioned above

As an undergraduate student I was an elected representative and member of Imperial College Union council for two years.

I regularly attend and participate in local public meetings; including those of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign though I am not a member of that organisation.

Please list any academic, professional and/or vocational qualifications

Undergraduate

Biochemistry BSc (2:1) Imperial College London. Final year courses: Bio-analytical Technology, Genetics and Genomics, Molecular Basis of Infection, Molecular Basis of Development. Research Project: Investigating membrane proteins of C.difficile, a human bacterial pathogen. Carried out at the Centre for Molecular Microbiology & Infection.

School

A grade A Levels in Maths, Chemistry, Biology and General Studies.

Required competencies, personal skills and qualities

Please give brief examples to demonstrate how you meet the following competencies

The ability to think strategically – To have breadth of vision – to rise above detail, and to see problems and issues from a wider, forward-looking perspective – and to make appropriate linkages.

When considering effectiveness of the Police and Crime Panel and putting forward suggestions for improvements I have focused on proposing systemic changes. For example I have noted the panel allows the commissioner to select those decisions which the panel are formally notified of. I have suggested the panel strengthens these arrangements by making clear to the commissioner which decisions the panel expects to have reported to them, and by being prepared to consider detailed scrutiny of matters the commissioner has not voluntarily drawn to the panel’s attention.

I have always sought to pitch my activities at the appropriate level. For example I would point to my lobbying related to the way Cambridgeshire Police, in 2008, stated they viewed the PACE codes merely as optional guidance rather than an important part of the law which they must follow. While my interest in this was initiated by a personal local experience I realised strategic issues at a force wide, and national level, were raised and pursued them via the Police Authority and MP, resulting in an important change in the force’s stated position.

The ability to make good judgements – To take a balanced, open-minded and objective approach – for example, in evaluating the priorities of the police and crime commissioner, assessing candidates for top level appointments or considering complaints against the police and crime commissioner.

I am a genuinely independently minded individual. I have no political party allegiance or religious or ideological beliefs which I consider would counter or distract from taking a balanced, open minded and objective approach to evaluating a police and crime plan’s priorities or commenting on candidates for senior appointments.

I am scientifically trained and numerate with experience of carrying out objective commercial technology assessments.

Though my volunteering with WhatDoTheyKnow.com I am routinely involved in making difficult judgements, along with other volunteers including the organisation’s trustees, about the publication of material we are asked to remove from the site including potentially defamatory material, personal information and materially accidentally released by public bodies. This involves coming to justified, balanced, judgements following consideration of, for example, the public interest, impact on individuals and legal risk.

The ability to be open to change – To be able to challenge accepted views constructively without becoming confrontational, and to recognise and respond positively to the need for change.

I have not viewed the panel’s rules of procedure, and practices, relating to public participation as set in stone. I think my activism aimed at ensuring the panel follows its own published rules, and extends them to enable the suggestion of items for scrutiny, the acceptance of questions raised by the agenda and papers for a meeting after the deadline for publishing that material.

I have been calmly persistent over many months in the face of the public participation element of panel meetings twice being brought to a close while I was in-front of the panel seeking to put a question, and a number of inaccurate answers to questions which have wrongly implied the basis of my questions were unfounded.

For a number of years now I have campaigned against the roll out of TASER to all front line police officers. That remains my view, but in light of the re-organisation of police forces and budget cuts reducing the availability of, and increasing the per-use cost of, armed response units I have adapted my views. The key thing for me is TASER ought not be routinely carried by large numbers of officers and those armed with them need to be suitably trained and experienced. My views on 20 mph limits and their enforcement have similarly developed over time in light of changing circumstances.

I am trained scientist, and have worked as a researcher and in the scientific field. Being appropriately sceptical of accepted views, being prepared to see such views overturned in light of new evidence is key to taking a scientific and analytical view of the world. I seek to take a such a rational view of the world, particularly in relation to public decisions, and hope my education and experience enables me to do that.

The ability to scrutinise and challenge – To be able to rigorously scrutinise and challenge constructively, using appropriate data, evidence and resources.

Scrutinising and challenging local elected representatives, including those on the Police and Crime Panel, is something I have been doing extensively over the last few years. I have always sought to do so while citing the sources of information, the articles on my website at rtaylor.co.uk demonstrate that. In the case of panel meetings I have filmed, and transcribed meetings to ensure evidence is available to support any comments and further actions.

As a member of the team at WhatDoTheyKnow.com I am an activist seeking to expand the amount of public sector evidence and data available, in an easily and authoritatively citable manner, to those wishing to scrutinise what is being done on their behalf by public bodies.

The ability to be analytical – To interpret and question complex written material – including financial and statistical information and other data such as performance measures – and identify the salient points.

My scientific training; as well as experience commenting on public sector statistics has led to me developing an ability to comment critically on information provided and identify what has been omitted. A key example is my lobbying relating to police phone answering data where I drew attention to how the performance data lacked key information such as by how much targets were being missed when they were not met.

I have experience in analysing financial information both relating to private companies I have been involved with and in the public sector since being a member of my student union council at Imperial College through to monitoring and commenting on the my local council’s performance and plans. I have followed, and commented in depth, the two recent significant financial mishaps at Cambridge City Council; in respect of Icelandic investments and significant losses related to Folk Festival ticketing.

I understand it would not be appropriate to use a position on the panel to pursue my my own views and ideas, but I think having developed my own position is helpful when it comes to assessing others’ proposals and performance.

The ability to communicate effectively – To be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing – and to interact positively with other members of the Panel, the police and crime commissioner, and the public.

I regularly speak in public at committee meetings, public meetings and on the radio, and also often participate in meetings relating to my employment.

As someone who is passionate about democracy I have huge respect for democratically elected representatives such as councillors and the commissioner.

I routinely communicate everything I do related to public and civic matters via Twitter, in a succinct and timely manner. I publish further information, often both in bullet point, and in-depth form, on my own website. Both Twitter and my website are two way forms of communication via which I regularly enter public debate. I would intend, if appointed to the panel continue these activities and aim to be as open as possible about my activities in relation to it.

Please give brief examples to demonstrate the extent to which you possess the following personal skills and qualities

Team working – The ability to play an effective role in meetings through listening, persuading and showing respect for the views of others.

I was a co-opted member of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Safer and Stronger Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee in December 2011 and raised a number of issues, including continuing my lobbying for the release of more detailed police phone answering performance.

I believe I was invited to participate in the scrutiny committee as a result of effectively using the public speaking slot at public meetings.

In relation to volunteering on WhatDoTheyKnow.com; team meetings in relation to the running of that service involve those with different interests and perspectives. To provide a useful service to our users, requires open and collaborative discussion among those who would like to, for example take less legal risk, or conversely, publish more potentially problematic material, and reaching a position which while everyone will not agree on, has been collectively determined.

Self-confidence – The skill to challenge accepted views constructively without becoming confrontational.

I think a good example to cite here is the way I responded to councillors and officers at Huntingdonshire District Council’s full council on Wednesday the 26th of June 2013. I was seeking to film the meeting (the Police and Crime Commissioner was present which was my particular interest). Officers and the meeting’s chair were quite confrontational and told me I would not be allowed to film them meeting and even told me they were going to call the police but I calmly awaited the start of the meeting and when it came to it the chair decided to permit filming.

I have written about this exchange at:

www.rtaylor.co.uk/6092

My experience was cited by the Department for Communities and Local Government when they announced the signing of the new law permitting filming of local government meetings.

I don’t think that confrontation is something to always shy away from; I think robust debate is a necessary part of the democratic process and for us to decide how we are going to run society. I do not avoid discussing controversial topics, for example racial inequalities in police use of stop and search, even though that is an area, like many others, on which people hold such strong views that some degree of incoming confrontation is almost inevitable when engaging with them. In my view the appropriate response is to seek to remain calm, measured and rational. We cannot have areas which are critical to public policy which are no-go areas for open debate; there is a need in my view to tackle these issues for example through well run and moderated public contribution opportunities both in-person and online for the Police and Crime Panel.

Enthusiasm and drive – The ability to be proactive in seeking out learning and developmental opportunities to enhance knowledge and understanding (for example, on financial matters and statutory requirements).

I have sustained enthusiasm for democracy, openness and accountability over more than a decade since (and perhaps a little before) my time at university with involvement in the Students’ Union through to my current interest in democratic accountability and strategy setting in local policing.

I note my interest in the panel’s work has substantially exceeded that of one of the individuals the panel initially appointed as an independent member.

This question probably alludes to training of panel members. I would be very keen to take any opportunities to extend my knowledge; though I consider there is a need to be sceptical about the quality and intent of those providing training and advice. It is often useful to be taken through something by experts and that can speed up a learning process but there is a need to verify key information from original sources.

Respect for others – The capacity to treat all people fairly and with respect, to value diversity and respond sensitively to difference.

I think it is important that anyone with a public role makes clear that they want to see everyone treated equally by the state irrespective of factors such as race or age when those factors are irrelevant.

People in Cambridgeshire have very diverse religions, cultures, means, and ways of life. I think the key thing in in respect of policing is that everyone must be treated equally under the law.

I would say people need to be treated with due respect; I do not for example think that challenging or asking probing questions when appropriate is disrespectful, however others can, and do, disagree.

Integrity – The necessity to embrace high standards of conduct and ethics and be committed to upholding human rights and equality of opportunity for all.

I agree with the importance of high standards of conduct and ethics and broadly with upholding human rights and equality of opportunity for all. In the latter case I think what’s important is meritocracy.

Human rights can be a complex subject. Are my human rights breached by the fact we have a hereditary monarch and I cannot have a say in who ultimately rules the country in which I live? Is it a breach of someone’s human rights to prevent them committing suicide?

I would like to see all those holding positions of authority and responsibility subscribing to the “Nolan Principles” on standards in public life; I have promoted this view in relation to the University of Cambridge and a Students’ Union.

Decisiveness – The ability to show resilience even in challenging circumstances, remaining calm and confident and able to make difficult decisions.

As someone who regularly comments on civic and public matters I often come to a view, make that public, and defend and enter into debate in relation to it. I think this is something which we need as a society to encourage more of, so there is more open debate about the way our public services and society as a whole operates.

I have already in this application referred to my experiences volunteering with WhatDoTheyKnow.com and in seeking to film Huntingdonshire District Council which I think demonstrate the abilities sought here.

Please give details of your experience (in a paid or unpaid role) in community safety, victim support, criminal justice and related issues

I have attended, and expressed views on local police priority setting meetings across the Cambridgeshire Police Force Area including: Ely, Wisbech, Bassingbourne and Melbourn, North Cambridge, Sawston, Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, East Cambridge, South Cambridge, Histon, Impington, Cottenham, Milton, Chittering, Oakington and Waterbeach, Barton, Bourn, Caldecote, Cambourne, Caxton, Comberton, Coton, Croxton, Eltisley and Granchester and West/Central Cambridge.

On a number of occasions I have spent time at Cambridge Magistrate’s court; and have commented and lobbied on the basis of my experiences. I have also served on Crown Court juries in Cambridge. In January 2010 I attended the Royal Courts of Justice to personally witness, report and comment on, the start of the first modern criminal trial in the UK where the defendants have been denied a jury.

I have sought to find out and follow, publicise and comment on, how policing and crime related decisions are made across the public sector. I have attended, and used the public speaking slot to participate in, many meetings of Cambridge’s Community Safety Partnership. Where the existence of other partnership’s meetings in Cambridgeshire have been revealed I’ve taken the opportunity to point out they are not open to the public and explain how this is a problem even for example for councillors. When the chair of the Police and Crime Panel has suggested people look at the work of their local Community Safety Partnerships I pointed out the difficulties caused by their meeting in private.

Why do you want to be a co-opted independent member? Please say why you are interested in becoming a co-opted independent member of the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel

In my view the panel to-date has done little, if anything, more than it is required to by law. It has has not used its powers, and influence, on behalf of the people of Cambridgeshire to hold our police and crime commissioner to account, to ensure what the commissioner is doing is made public, and to assist the commissioner in the fulfilment of his duties.

Existing panel members have not taken a significant interest in the work of the commissioner. In July 2014 we had the chair of the Police and Crime Panel asking if the commissioner held his business coordination board meetings in public, apparently genuinely unaware they were held in private. We have seen panel members showing repeatedly they have not even been following what the commissioner publishes on his website. There have been poor attendance records from many panel members, there has also been a high turnover of members. I think I can bring a level of interest in the subject matter of the panel’s work lacking in many of its current members. I have taken an interest in local policing and related matters for a number of years, and this appointment is for four years, so I expect I would also be able to bring a degree of continuity and memory, to the panel’s operations.

My campaigning, activism and volunteering is driven by a desire to live in a meritocratic society with a thriving representative democracy where civil liberties are protected.

Significant changes to policing locally and nationally are underway. I’m volunteering to offer to help shape this new environment in a more direct and effective manner than I would expect to be able to from outside the panel.

I would like to see the openness and transparency in the oversight of local policing improve. Transparency is in my view an essential element of democracy; without it the electorate cannot determine how their elected representatives are performing.

I want to see an effective Police and Crime Panel, assisting the commissioner in areas such as monitoring police performance as well as providing constructive criticism and scrutiny during the course of the commissioner’s period in office. I’m putting myself forward to offer to help achieve that.

Other information If you are employed, is your employer willing release you to carry out the duties of a co- opted independent member of the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel?

I am employed by my own company which I wholly own so this is not particularly relevant. I will make myself available to carry our the duties of the role if appointed.

Do you hold, or have recently held, any of the following positions?

A member of the civilian staff of the Cambridgeshire police force A Member of Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, the Scottish Parliament or the European Parliament A Member of any of the County, District or Unitary councils in Cambridgeshire A police officer

Answer: No.

If yes, please give details.

N/A

Is there anything in your private or working life, or in your past, or, to your knowledge, in that of any member of your family or close friends, which, if it became generally known, might bring you or the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel into disrepute, or call into question your integrity, authority or standing as a member of the Panel? If yes, please give details.

Not in my view, no. There is nothing in my view, of relevance to a public position such as this, which is not already openly published on my website.

Prior to the election of the Police and Crime Commissioner in 20102 I commented publicly on a number of commissioner candidates made my own views public on what I think Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner should do, something which prompted a number of people to offer to nominate me to stand, many offering to help with a deposit too.

Richard Taylor
Cambridge

http://www.rtaylor.co.uk

I have thought about who else I’d like to see panel members consider for the role. Our local journalists take an interest in the role of the commissioner so perhaps Raymond Brown from the Cambridge News or Paul Stainton from BBC Cambridgeshire would be good in the role? Perhaps it would suit a retired journalist?

Money

This is an unpaid voluntary role; for which some expenses may be paid. Expenses for the independent members are capped at £920 per year. According to decisions taken in private by the shadow panel any expenses claims have to be submitted through the panel and “only basic expenses should be reimbursed”.

In practice the only expense involved I expect is travel to meeting venues in Cambridgeshire; ie. either public transport or driving and parking.

52 comments/updates on “Volunteering to be a Member of Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel Again

  1. Bernard

    I wish you well. I was surprised the vacancy was not published on the Commissioner’s web site. Accepting that the panel is there to scrutinise his work, it is a related function and by not being published on the commissioner’s web site many potential candidates (me) risked missing the opportunity to apply.

  2. paul Lythgoe

    Dear Richard,
    Having read your CV I am entirely convinced that you are completely unsuited to the role. You have an active interest in policing, and the politics of policing, you have attended more panel meetings than almost any single member of the panel, you understand the meaning of scrutiny, you have read and digested the police budgets and plan, and have read legislation relating to the panel role, and you are clearly not a member of the rotary club. What are you thinking of applying yet again.
    And what happens if they lose their senses and select you to join the panel – is that the end of your unique commentary and video of the panel. You can’t maintain your standards on transparency, and find yourself conducting business in camera.
    And after all of those things there is the small matter of your soul – will it not be lost to the establishment. Dr Faustus made a similar compact, it didn’t end well.
    Best wishes and here is hoping that reporting on this committee doesn’t go dark,
    Paul

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      If I became a panel member I would still film, photograph and report on meetings. Obviously actually being a panel member would be the priority so there would be less active zooming and panning etc. and I’d probably just leave the camera in a static position throughout the meeting and let it run as long as the battery lasts.

      As for private meetings. I would publicise the existence of any private meetings I was invited to. I’d urge the panel to carry out as much of its business in public as possible and to be clear about its reasons for entering private sessions. Where private sessions are held for legitimate reasons I would encourage the panel to only discuss what really can’t be discussed in public privately and to return to public session for any votes, decisions and recommendations.

  3. Richard Taylor Article author

    I have received a response from Peterborough City Council showing that the officer, Mandy Long, to whom applications were to be submitted by 5pm on Friday the 22nd of August 2014 only passed the application on to the officer dealing with them on the 26th of August so as I suspected there was no advantage to the panel setting the 5pm Friday deadline and they could have given people the bank holiday weekend to both discover the adverts and prepare an application.

    The email I was sent also confirms there has been more than one applicant.

    Ian Phillips, Social Inclusion Manager, at the council has sent me a copy of the application form as a word document and asked me to complete it, print it off and sign it.

    I note that you have not provided previous address history. Whilst this isn’t necessarily needed for this stage, should you be successful the Council will need to carry out checks on your background through the Disclosure and Barring Service given the sensitive nature of the work that you would be involved with. Previous address history will be needed for this purpose.

    This doesn’t explain why those who’ve lived at their current address for five years are not required to provide their entire past address history whereas others are.

    The disclosure and barring service is designed to prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. There is no suggestion that being a member of the Police and Crime Panel involves working with vulnerable groups, including children. It does not appear to me that the panel requested a Disclosure and Barring Service check for applicants; not can I see anywhere in the information provided to applicants that this is mentioned.

    It would be interesting to know if all applicants are being provided with the editable copy of the application form after the deadline for applications.

    Particularly given my lobbying in relation to the format of the form back in 2012 I’m not particularly keen to spend time reformatting my application; even if it is just a 10 minute copy and paste job.

  4. Richard Taylor Article author

    I’ve just spotted from the email I have received that Mandy Long, to whom the panel requested applications be sent has @peterborough.gov.uk and @serco.com email addresses and it is Secro’s website URL, not Peterborough City Council’s which she places at the bottom of her emails.

    It looks as if the panel have, via Peterborough City Council, outsourced the handling of the applications to Serco.

  5. Richard Taylor Article author

    I have spent twenty-five tedious minutes copy and pasting my application form responses on to the editable version of the form which I was provided with on the 27th of August.

    The content I’ve put into the form is identical to that shown above with the addition of a few dates in the “personal history” section.

    I added a note explaining the date of the new “signature” saying:

    [Note: Application submitted on 22 August 2014 but editable version of the application form only provided on the 27th of August]

    I submitted the form along with the following covering email:

    Ian,

    Could you let me know if all applicants have been provided with an editable version of the application form only after having submitted applications by other means or if others were provided the editable version of the application form prior to the deadline?

    I have now copied and pasted my application into the editable (Word) version of the form provided and am attaching it to this message, both in PDF and Word format.

    Had a company offering a job messed me about in this way as an applicant I would not have complied with such requests. I have complied in this case as I can see it may help panel members, who are themselves volunteers, to have applications which are consistently formatted.

    I have typed my name into the signature line on the form; if the panel require a handwritten signature in pen I suggest I could provide this at any interview.

    As for the Disclosure and Barring Service check requirement. I am surprised that information required for this purpose has been requested in amongst other personal information required by the application form without explaining why.

    Could you let me know where the requirement for such a check has arisen? Does the panel consider such a check is statutorily required? Have the panel taken a decision to require such checks or is this a requirement officers have taken it upon themselves to impose?

    Could you explain what element of the work of a panel member is considered “sensitive” (in relation to the Disclosure and Barring Service check).

    Regards,

    Richard Taylor
    Cambridge
    http://www.rtaylor.co.uk

  6. paul Lythgoe

    Serco – is there anywhere in our public sector that this malevalent company hasn’t invaded. After the scandal of charging the prison services for tagging prisoners who in some cases were dead and paying a £65 million fine, after the £4m fine for its providing inadequate provision for asylum accomodation, after the £5m fine for overcharging for the use of Boris Bikes in the capital, after its well publicised failings in areas such as Suffolk with its failing toprovide the services it was contracted to do it is unbelievable this company is still entrusted with government contracts. Given how close the company escaped fraud charges one can only conclude that there is something rotten at the heart of our governments central and local that continue to feed this monster, and especially with links to the judiciary and policing.
    Good to see that on a form they will administer they are asking for a criminal records check – the irony.
    And a question that is always worth asking of these companies do they have corporate structures to reduce their tax liabilities in the UK, and funnel their profits into tax havens?

    May I reconfirm you are a shoe in for the job – you have even filmed the members of the panel who will co-opt you being gulled by your charm, and behaving so positively towards you. I think you could have shortened your application to “You remember me – I was the one that turned up!”

  7. stephen ginns

    Good luck in your application — an ideal candidate so as has been said you will almost certainly not be appointed. Regrettably you have made their declining easier by refusing to give some requested information – whilst I accept your points on these refusals, you are giving them an escape clause.

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      Stephen,

      Officers have confirmed to me the past address information is not required at this stage. I’ve filled in many similar application forms in the past and usually they are clearer about what they want. I can’t believe the panel, or the Disclosure and Barring Service require the address of every location I’ve ever spent a night; I don’t think I’d be prepared to disclose that level of personal information to the state or even if I’d be able to accurately collate it.

      I am concerned that appointment to ever more positions, both voluntary and paid, is subject to state approval. Giving the state a veto over people’s ability to play a role in society or even to veto someone’s ability to practice their profession is a significant power which I think ought be limited to situations where it is necessary and proportionate. I’m particularly concerned about requirements for elected representatives to be subject to such approvals – I think the principle the only qualification you need to be an elected rep is the votes of the majority of the people is a core basic one which needs to be maintained. I think asking questions about the need for checks in this case is worthwhile.

      As for references; while previously when applying for this role I did publicly ask if anyone would be willing to support my application as a referee I had not done so this time prior to the deadline; although since, on publishing the above article, I have had a number of people proactively offer to act as referees. I think my approach of asking for my application to be considered on merit is reasonable given panel members themselves are in a position to consider the contributions I have made to the work of the panel.

      Whenever I have cited someone as a referee I have always contacted them and told them about the application. While this is in my view the only reasonable approach to take I am aware that each use of someone as a referee comes at a cost; people only have a certain tolerance; in other-words every application requiring references involves spending hard earned goodwill. I think in many cases relying on references is actually at odds with appointment on merit; and often relying on references means appointment processes can be skewed in favour of people who know, or have access to, those with a reputation in a certain area, rather than those who would be best for the job.

      In many cases I have become aware of references used inappropriately, for example seeking to confirm qualifications, where more appropriate and reliable routes for providing such assurance eg. from regulatory bodies, universities, and exam boards, exist. References can also be problematic for those who find themselves with legitimate grievances with an employer; an employee’s position is weakened if they know a future employer will require a reference from their current employer; the value of a reference can make decisions to whistle-blow on illegal or immoral behaviour harder.

      I think the practice of requiring references when taking applications for roles can ingrain many of the systemic inequalities we have in our society and is something which ought be done, or entertained, with caution.

  8. Richard Taylor Article author

    I’ve had a further email from Ian Phillips:

    Thanks Richard,

    I note that you have not completed previous address history or references. As a reminder, this information will be required should you be offered the position.

    As I noted above I don’t have the details of what exactly is required by the panel in terms of previous address history. They are not simply passing on the requirements of the Disclosure and Barring Service.

    The panel’s approach appears to be strongly favoring applicants who have lived in the same place for five years who are exempted from the address history requirement. I suspect those who have lived in the same place for five years will tend to be older and richer than those who have moved around.

    It is standard practice in business when applying for a position to submit an application form to ensure that all candidates provide information consistently. I can confirm that you are the only applicant who didn’t submit the form.

    Ian Philips has not answered the question I asked which was if others had been supplied with an edible version of the form.

    I do not understand what relevance “standard practice in business” has to volunteering for a civic position.

    In my experience businesses trying to recruit people now tend to make it as easy as possible for applicants to provide the information requested in digital form, or at least typed.

    This position is subject to a background check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). As you know, the Panel has a number of statutory functions and it is appropriate that Panel members can demonstrate that they are suitable to hold the post. I am sure you will agree that it would be unacceptable for the Panel not to check the background of successful candidates given the responsibility of the position. Hypothetically, if a successful candidate had previously been convicted of a crime, particularly if it was a serious offence, then the Panel would need to consider whether the person remained suitable for the post.

    I think this statement indicated the panel are abusing the Disclosure and Barring Service. The service exists to try and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. It is not intended for others to investigate applicants for positions. As I understand it a company or organisation can’t just decide they want Disclosure and Barring Service checks on all their applicants.

    I note that during the confirmation hearing for the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner a panel member asked the candidate if he had any convictions; no answer was forthcoming as the candidate responded with another question: “are you asking about my speeding offence forty years ago?”.

    If you are not willing to consent to a DBS check (assuming that you are successful) then we will be unable to proceed with your application. Could you please confirm how you wish to proceed?

    I will respond to say simply: “I would like my application, as submitted, to be considered”.

  9. Richard Taylor Article author

    I have explained above that I oppose the use of Disclosure and Barring Service checks in ever more areas of life.

    Another reason for asking questions here is that the Police and Crime Commissioner is responsible for providing information held by Cambridgeshire Police to the Disclosure and Barring Service. When strategic policing policies were debated in public locally under the Police Authority the authority heard from then Deputy Chief Constable Feavyour:

    Mr Feavyour said he felt the system was broken due to the fact those in receipt of CRB checks didn’t assess the information appropriately, so he and the force was going to fix it from the other side by omitting information they considered not relevant.

    The panel is responsible for scrutinising the commissioner’s strategic decisions on what information to pass on to the Disclosure and Barring Service.

    I think it would be wrong for a prospective panel member to co-operate with Disclosure and Barring Service checks without understanding why they are required.

    It would be interesting to know if the panel has seen Disclosure and Barring Service checks for all 27 people who have served on the panel; and how often the panel request updates from the DBS. I think that is something which could usefully be the subject of a Freedom of Information request.

  10. Richard Taylor Article author

    Chair of the Panel Cllr McGuire told Cambridgeshire County Council’s full council on the 14th of October that there have only been two applications for the independent members roles and that both applicants will be interviewed.

    McGuire said he did not know if the collection of information for a disclosure and barring service check was appropriate.

  11. Richard Taylor Article author

    I have been invited to an interview on the 3rd of November 2014 at 10:45am at Pathfinder House in Huntingdon.

    I have confirmed I will attend the interview. I have been offered car parking at the venue which I have accepted.

    The invitation came from Ian Phillips, a “Social Inclusion Manager” at Peterborough City Council.

  12. stephen ginns --- cambridge

    Well done so far! At least you know you have only one competitor (so far!). I take the opportunity to wish you every success – just remember that your objective is to contribute to the effectiveness of the Police and Crime Panel – not to show them up for the balloons that they seem to be!

  13. Chris

    I’d bet that even if the other applicant is a large shrub from the P&CC’s garden, they’ll find a way to appoint it rather than you, Richard. But I so hope I’m wrong.

  14. Bernard

    I’ve just checked with Ladbrokes and you are 100 to 1 with the large bush ‘evens’. I don’t think the social inclusion manager is expecting you to be included.

  15. Richard Taylor Article author

    I was interviewed by the chair of Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel Cllr Mac McGuire along with Cllrs Shellens and Ablewhite.

    The councillors based the interview on a series of questions they had prepared beforehand.

    The first question was why I want to be a member of the panel. I replied talking about the importance of public, democratic setting of police strategy and oversight of policing given the powers we give the police in our society, I gave evidence of my interest in this area over many years, including following the work of the Police Authority and local police priority setting in Cambridge and elsewhere in the force area. I said I saw the panel has a role in the process and I was happy to volunteer to take on more of a role than I was already taking as an interested member of the public.

    The second question was if I see myself as a representative. I responded no, I do not see myself as a representative nor purport to be one. The councillors on the panel are the elected representatives, the members of the public have a different position. I noted that I do not think the members of the public ought be appointed so as to try and ensure parts of Cambridgeshire’s population which councillors might not think they represent well themselves are represented on the panel, but on the merit, on the basis of an assessment of applicant’s ability to contribute to the work of the panel. I urged councillors to consider my own offer to volunteer on the basis of the contributions I have made to the operation of the panel as a member of the public reporting and commenting on what they have been doing, using the public participation opportunities, and lobbying panel members.

    I was asked how the panel can ensure the Police and Crime Plan reflects the needs and desires of the people of Cambridgeshire, and how the panel can ensure it’s aware of the views of the public. My response was that when it comes to consulting on the Police and Crime plan that’s the role of the Police and Crime Commissioner, and I wouldn’t want to see the panel also trying to run a consultation on the same subject. I suggested the panel’s role ought be to question the commissioner on his consultation and how he has responded to the input he has received via it and where it can for the panel to make recommendations. I spoke about my own experiences commenting on the commissioner’s draft police and crime plan and my surprise when he published the draft version as the final plan without any changes.

    I was asked how I thought I could help other members of the panel. The response I gave here was to take ideas raised during discussion and suggest taking action on them. Often ideas are raised at panel meetings but they are not followed-up and forgotten about. I said if I was a panel member I might suggest proposing a recommendation to the commissioner, or putting something on the agenda for a future meeting. I noted the panel had made very few formal recommendations to the commissioner, and hadn’t followed-up on the one non-statutory, recommendation I am aware of – that the commissioner ought publish details of events his outreach officers are to attend (the commissioner has responded by publishing a historic diary of events they have attended). Cllr McGuire asked me why I thought panel members didn’t ensure action was taken on their suggestions; I said my impression was they didn’t know that they could propose a motion, or propose a recommendation or perhaps thought it impolite to do so. Cllr McGuire countered this saying all panel members were trained and fully aware of what they, and the panel, can do.

    Cllr Shellens asked me what approach I would take if I was the only one in the room with a particular point of view. I replied to say I was happy in that position, and had often been, including when making suggestions to the Police and Crime Panel. I said one approach was to discuss the point, for example that the Police and Crime Panel should review the Commissioner’s decisions relating to 101, with others outside the panel, and even if I was a lone voice within the panel I might not be in other contexts and that would be a source of strength for continuing to lobby within the panel. Through discussing things with others you improve and develop your arguments, learn what people’s objections might be; or sometimes you learn that you’ve got something wrong, or not quite right, and find an alternative approach.

    I raised the issue of the disclosure and barring service checks. The panel said they would check if it was appropriate to carry out a check. Cllr Ablewhite said it was “standard practice” to ask people for all addresses they’d ever lived at, but Cllrs Shellens and Mac McGuire disagreed with him on that. The panel confirmed that a disclosure and barring service check would take place after the appointment decision, and the result of the check would therefore not be used as a factor in the decision (this is contrary to what the panel’s officers had told me, and is a positive step).

    I was told the interview panel would make a decision and let me know later that day; and that appointing no-one was one of the options they were actively considering.

    I commented on the fact there were only two applicants and chair Cllr Mac McGuire stated there was very little interest in the work of Police and Crime Commissioners at all, as shown by the turnouts in the elections.

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      One of the things the interview panel did was list some of the responsibilities of the panel members (they asked: Would you attend meetings?, Training?, Would you complete a declarations of interest form? etc.). I queried if the responsibilities included attendance at secret pre-meetings prior to panel meetings.

      Chair Cllr McGuire denied there were such things; but Cllrs Ablewhite and Shellens disagreed with him and said there were.

      There was no answer to my question on if independent members would be invited to them, or expected to attend them. (I have made a FOI request, the response to which suggests the secret pre-meetings are not organised by the panel’s secretariat)

    2. Richard Taylor Article author

      The minutes of the 30 July meeting of the panel have belatedly been published. It is recorded that during the discussion of the appointment of new panel members it was suggested:

      • Consideration should be given to increasing the diversity of the Panel.

      As I have noted above I received an assurance during my interview this was not actually a consideration being applied by the interview panel.

  16. Richard Taylor Article author

    I have received a response:

    Dear Richard

    On behalf of the Police and Crime Panel thank you for attending the interview held in Huntingdon this morning. Unfortunately, I am sorry to tell you that you have not been recommended for appointment.

    As you are aware, two candidates had applied for the vacant position and both were interviewed this morning. Both candidates were asked the same questions and the answers provided scored. This resulted in one candidate receiving a higher total score and they therefore will be recommended to the rest of the Panel for appointment.

    Thanks you for your continued interest in the work of the Panel and please feel free to contact me in future if you have any comments or observations on how the Panel operates.

    Regards

    Ian Phillips

    Social Inclusion Manager

    Peterborough City Council

    Bayard Place, Broadway

    Peterborough

    PE1 1FZ

    I think I did see the other candidate but I didn’t recognise him.

    Given there are only two candidates I wonder if the full panel will probe for more reasons as to why the panel is recommending the person they are.

  17. david

    Richard,

    There are references to supplying address details for five years; this I would suggest is to enable a credit check.

    It is possible for the police – acting on behalf of the PCP – to conduct basic checks on your application form and by adding address history either exclude or include information. As for the reference to a DBS (formerly CRB) check that I would suggest is a standard bureaucratic procedure, especially when SERCO handled the process. Given the role of the PCP there is NO need for a DBS check.

    Now whether the state – via the police – should be able to exclude candidates from a public post is a debate in its own right.

    A shame you were rejected.

  18. Chris

    I think they would have saved time and money if they’d just asked: “Are you likely to rock the boat?”
    Richard: “Yes”.
    The Other Candidate: “Gosh, no”.
    The Panel: “Well, that’s sorted then. Sorry, Richard, wrong answer. Anyone for lunch?”

  19. paul Lythgoe

    Richard,
    As stated before you were clearly unsuited for the role. Your persistent questioning and understanding of procedure, and the intent that the panel perform some purpose makes you totally unsuitable for the role. We now await with interest the person who the panel thinks will be able to sit and make few or no contributions and continue to fail to challenge the PCC on any substantive issue. The fact that the panel meetings are just public gloss, and that there are meetings held in camera prior to the event comes as no surprise.And what of the make-up this committee Shellens Lib Dem Huntingdon; Macguire Tory Fens; Ablewhite Tory Huntingdon. Difficult to see how the panel possibly represented the thoughts and interest of Labour Cambridge City. Why?

    Look forward to your film and contribution at the next panel meeting.

    regards
    Paul

  20. Richard Taylor Article author

    Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel today accepted the recommendation of the interview panel and appointed Cambridge resident Edward Leigh to the panel.

    Mr Leigh was observing the panel. He described himself to me as someone who works in IT and marketing with no particular special, or professional, interest in policing and crime he said he is just someone who thought the work of the panel is important, saw the advert and applied.

    He has given me his contact details and has created an email address for those wishing to contact him in relation to his role on the panel:

    pcp at edwardleigh.co.uk [address updated 6 November 2014]

    As I left the panel meeting he was talking to the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Brian Ashton; and I heard Mr Leigh state he would be seeking a briefing on “Programme Metis”, the programme of enabling police officers to do more work away from police stations using tablet computers.

    Mr Leigh is on Twitter as: @EdwardALeigh and has a LinkedIn page:

    http://uk.linkedin.com/in/edwardleigh

  21. Richard Taylor Article author

    Mr Leigh has sent me an email which he has marked “PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL” and in which he explicitly states that he does not give me permission to publish the message, or to quote from it. My understanding is that he could sue me if I published the message, or excerpts from it, claiming a breach of Article 8 Paragraph One of the European Convention of Human Rights, as brought into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998. My view is there is nothing in the message which is substantive enough, with the quality of confidence, for any publication to be actionable. The message is entirely in relation to his public role and in no way, in my view, personal.

    I often speak to people informally and in circumstances where there would be an expectation of confidentiality and I try and make a good judgement on what to publish, and what not to publish.

    I think the message I have been sent would generally show Mr Leigh in a good light if it was published; he asks me to publish a different email address for contacting him in the above comment. I’ve transparently made the edit requested which I think is perfectly reasonable. He invites me to write to him at any time about his role, which is excellent. It is notable the other independent member, Christine Graham, does not provide contact details, and has never replied to any of my communications with her in respect of her role (example).

    Mr Leigh does though say he supports the panel holding private and informal meetings however he, commendably, invites me to explain my concerns about them to him.

    Mr Leigh has stated he will publish a reply to my article about the panel. He’s not made clear which article he is referring to, or where he intends to publish a reply.

    As I have done in a similar case previously while I feel I can’t publish the letter, I can publish my reply:

    Edward,

    Thanks for your email.

    I’ve updated my website to use the new email address you have provided.

    As for secret meetings; firstly the law is clear that meetings of the Police and Crime Panel have to be public meetings; unless they resolve to enter private session for the discussion of confidential matters. The panel cannot legally meet in private; it can though enter a private session and exclude the public.

    I was particularly concerned by the panel holding its first meeting with the commissioner in private as I thought this was a key meeting at which I expected the tone of the relationship between the commissioner and the panel to be set.

    As for pre-meetings to discuss questioning, the Home Affairs Select Committee for example often has a published start time for a meeting in private before it commences in public, during that time they discuss who is going to ask which questions. That’s one approach the panel could take, but I think it would need a change in the law. I would not support allowing the panel to hold meetings in secret, or in private, other than when confidential matters are discussed and the panel has resolved to enter a private session.

    The current situation where the panel clearly has pre-meetings (members have told me they happen, and I’ve personally witnessed one), but the chair denies they do, and the secretariat claims no knowledge of them, is quite farcical.

    When the panel met to hold a confirmation hearing for the deputy police and crime commissioner it questioned the candidate in public and then retired to discuss the appointment in private session and never returned to public session. Members of the panel have said there was a vote held in that private session, and some claimed to have voted against the appointment of the deputy. The only information which has formally entered the public domain to-date is the notice of the decision, all the deliberation, and the reported vote, took place behind closed doors.

    I would like to see the panel’s handling of its next confirmation hearing, for the Commissioner’s Chief Finance Officer, to be handled much better and for clear reasons to be given for any decision to enter a private session and I think the panel should return to a public session for any vote and to conclude making its recommendation. If I spot the notice of the confirmation hearing in time to use the public participation element of the meeting I will seek to make this point in person to the panel. I have already lobbied a number of panel members on this point.

    There is no need for the panel to always meet with the Police and Crime Commissioner in attendance to answer questions. One option is the panel could meet to discuss things like its future work programme, or possible recommendations it could make to the commissioner separately from its meetings at which it questions the commissioner. This might be a way for the panel members to better co-ordinate what they are doing, in public, before they directly scrutinise the commissioner or put recommendations to him.

    I am not surprised that I was not appointed to the panel. The panel as a whole, and in particular the chair, Cllr McGuire, are very clearly only interested in doing the minimum required and I made clear I want to see an active and effective panel supporting the Police and Crime Commissioner.

    Regards,

    Richard Taylor
    Cambridge
    http://www.rtaylor.co.uk

  22. Richard Taylor Article author

    I should add I presume Mr Leigh’s appointment is subject to the panel working out if they wish to conduct a Disclosure and Barring Service check on him, if them conducting such a check is legal, and potentially the results of that check.

  23. Edward Leigh

    Let me start by saying that the views I express here are my own and not those of the Police and Crime Panel (PCP), nor necessarily of any other members of that Panel.

    Let me also make clear that should my personal views ever conflict with current interpretations of the law, legislation and not my views will govern my conduct as an acting member of the PCP. You will recall from the last PCP meeting that the Commissioner expressed his personal view the drugs should remain illegal but that, were the government to change the law, he would work with the new law. That is the position that all public officials must take, and where they cannot (because, say, of a conflict of interests, conscience or religious beliefs), they must abstain from any business in which they cannot speak or act impartially.

    I cannot comment on your allegations relating to the conduct of the PCP to date, but I have taken some time to research your contention that ‘pre-meetings’ are illegal.

    You are correct that the piece of legislation governing public access to PCP meetings (the 1972 Local Government Act, Part VA, Section 100A) does indeed say that, “A meeting of a principal council shall be open to the public…”. It is also unfortunate that Parliament has neglected to define, in that or in earlier related Acts, exactly what constitutes ‘a meeting’, so it might seem reasonable to infer the ordinary meaning of ‘a gathering’.

    However, there is in practice a well established distinction between official meetings, which have agendas and in which statutory executive responsibilities are exercised and minuted; and all other meetings, pre-meetings, conversations, briefings, consultations, etc., which do not involve the exercise of statutory duties, and therefore are not required to be open to the public.

    Public officials need space to learn, discuss, debate, invent, and formulate their ideas. It would serve no useful purpose to open up to scrutiny every assertion or question posed in ignorance or misunderstanding; every half-baked thought; every provocative or hypothetical proposal aimed at stimulating debate. Informal preparation is essential if public officials are to execute their duties efficiently and effectively at public meetings.

    At the end of the day, democracy requires trust, not total transparency. That trust must be earned, by officials demonstrating honesty, integrity and diligence in the execution of their duties. How they prepare to execute their duties is not normally a matter for public record.

    For official guidance on these matters, you might like to read the Department for Communities and Local Government guide on Open and accountable government, in particular p.11:

    Can I attend an executive’s pre-briefing meeting with local authority officers?
    No. The rules apply only to when councillors meet as a decision making body to exercise their statutory executive responsibilities. The rules do not apply to political groups’ meetings or to informal briefing meetings for councillors. 

    And also the Police and crime panels: Guidance on confirmation hearings guide, in particular p.12:

    The pre-meeting is the most important element of the preparations for the confirmation process, because it is here that members of the panel will decide on the scope and thrust of their questioning. This meeting should be held in private…

    Being a member of the PCP is something I take very seriously, and I fully intend to make a difference through my participation. I have taken on board your comments about the Panel, and I endorse your call for the Panel to be proactive in setting the agenda for its meetings with the Commissioner. I will endeavour to be as diligent as you undoubtedly would have been had you been appointed, and I welcome any input from you and anyone else in Cambridgeshire on what the PCP should be asking or suggesting to the Commissioner.

    Public knowledge and understanding of the role of the Police and Crime Panel is low, not helped by the fact that the Panel is barely mentioned on the PCC website, and information about the panel is buried within the Peterborough Council website (shortcut URL: bit.ly/cpcpanel). One of my first requests to the Commissioner’s office will be to include on their website information about the Panel, its role, and a link to the relevant page of the Peterborough Council website.

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      It is excellent to see such a detailed and thoughtful comment from Mr Leigh. That such a response would almost never be seen from a councillor shows what members of the public can bring to the panel in terms of time, interest, and ability.

      As for the Department for Communities Guidance on Openness the first thing to say is it is just guidance, and where it is at odds with the law it is the law which counts. This particular piece of guidance is at odds with the law over private meetings, and as I have previously noted it contains a section advising councils to adopt policies on the filming of the public at meetings even though the law gives councils no power to prevent the filming of members of the public at, or contributing to, meetings. Only local councils were consulted by the department as they produced the guidance so input from people like me was ignored. I did make an effort to encourage ministers to produce guidance which was in line with the law. I think it is undesirable for Government to produce guidance which is at odds with the law, it’s something which is quite common and very unhelpful.

      As for the Local Government Association guidance, this is something I’d give even less weight than informal guidance from Government. However I think if a Police and Crime Panel wanted to they could legally follow the recommendation being made in that document. If a Police and Crime Panel wanted to hold a separate pre-meeting to discuss a questioning strategy they could hold one. They could put an early item on agenda to consider a motion to hold the rest of their meeting in private. The meeting should still be publicised in the normal way though, with the agenda and papers published, and under the panel’s own rules there would have to be a public participation slot on the agenda. Posting notice of a meeting but noting it is highly likely to enter a private session soon after it starts is something that has been quite common at Cambridge City Council.

      In respect of the Police and Crime Panel I think some members might not take part in a secret, private, meeting (and certainly not an illegal one!). While no Cambridge Liberal Democrats are currently on the panel locally the Liberal Democrats used to have a policy of not taking part in secret deliberations (I think I recall they refused to participate in various regional meetings and the County Council’s “Policy Development Groups” the grounds they were inappropriately [though not always illegally] being held behind closed doors).

      I note Liberal Democrat Cllr Shellens didn’t attend the secret pre-meeting of the Police and Crime Panel on the 19th of June 2014, instead sitting in the Peterborough City Council chamber where the public meeting was due to start in the run-up to the meeting while his fellow panel members had shut themselves behind closed doors in another room. UKIP’s Cllr Peter Reeve has also been a strong proponent of openness and transparency in public office and would I think find it difficult if he was invited to participate in illegal secret meetings of Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel.

      If such a meeting was to be held which was expected to carry out all of its substantive business in private I would suggest it would be good practice to hold over the minutes, and action points, until a future meeting which would be likely to attract more public interest.

      The holding of illegal secret meetings is something I’ve previously raised in relation to Police Authority meetings and prompted a change in that authority’s stance.

      Publicising the Panel

      The Police and Crime Commissioner used to include Police and Crime Panel meetings in the events listing on his website (example). He has not done this now for many months. I think it would be useful for the panel to review what the commissioner decides to include in his events listing. The panel have recommended the commissioner publish all public meetings his outreach officers attend. The commissioner’s response to this recommendation has been to publish a retrospective diary of events his outreach officer has attended. This was clearly not the intent of the panel and I wonder if by taking such cynical action the commissioner is actually encouraging the panel to up their game and formulate better recommendations, and follow-up action taken on them.

      I think the panel ought promote it’s own work independently from the Commissioner. Other panels have websites of their own (example), and some live-stream their meetings and make them available online (example). I would particularly like to see the panel publicise it’s opportunities for members of the public to address the panel or suggest items for scrutiny. Currently the rules are very hard to navigate for as they require consulting both Peterborough City Council’s constitution and the panel’s own rules of procedure (for example the amount of time a public speaker is initially permitted is in the former, and the time for a follow-up question or statement is in the latter). Often there are only a few hours between the publication of the panel’s agenda for a meeting and the deadline for applications to speak. There is also a problem of the rules as written not being followed, and those chairing the panel making it up as they go along (as they are entitled by the rules to do).

  24. Richard Taylor Article author

    Mr Leigh refers to “conversations”. I think it’s reasonable to look at the continuum between informal conversations between either councillors or members of a public body like the police and crime panel and formal decision making meeting, however no one, and certainly not me, is suggesting all conversations ought be held in public.

    In the first instance I just want some openness and honesty about the pre-meetings. As I’ve noted above the current position is farcical.

    The kind of meetings I’ve been suggesting to-date ought be public have been the crucial first meeting between the panel and the commissioner, and the “Shadow Panel” – which was a formal minuted meeting, serviced by council officers, held in council premises, which took decisions.

    In the case of the upcoming confirmation hearing what I am calling for is the panel to return to public session for their deliberation and decision (if they need to enter private session to, for example, discuss confidential matters). I think it’s important to argue against what’s actually being suggested rather than arguing against something no one is proposing.

    Similarly when I proposed the panel ought consider the criteria used by the Commissioner for reporting decisions to them; panel member Cllr Curtis responded by saying he didn’t want the Commissioner reporting the decisions he makes while walking down the street. No one was suggesting the reporting of trivial decisions unconnected with the Commissioner’s office. I’m not suggesting Mr Leigh is deploying the tactic here, but arguing against something which isn’t proposed is quite a silly (albeit often disconcertingly effective in cases such as Cllr Curtis’ speech against the panel considering which of the commissioner’s decisions are put before the panel) technique for making a case.

  25. Ed Hammond

    Hi Richard – I’m afraid you’re wrong on the legality or otherwise of private Panel meetings. Members of Panels can meet as a group, separate from official Panel meetings, and discuss and consider issues. There is nothing which legally prevents this as such private Panel meetings are not legally Panel meetings at all. As they have no legal standing, they cannot be provided for in law.

    There was a seminar yesterday down in London for members and officers involved on Police and Crime Panels. I facilitated a session for support officers in the afternoon and because you’d raised the issue here, I conducted a quick straw poll to see how widespread the practice of holding private meetings was. Around half of those present do this – mainly in the form of pre-meetings to consider approaches to questioning for the formal Panel meeting. Personally I have no especial problem with these meetings as Panel members need a space to consider the questions they need to ask and the topics they need to consider. Making this public would risk blunting scrutiny’s effectiveness as the PCC would have advance warning of some of these questioning plans. Under normal circumstances you could argue that this might be a positive thing as it would allow the PCC to properly prepare. However, the relationship between some PCCs and Panels is such that in some areas, PCCs might be inclined to use this information to block this kind of questioning. I should also point out that Commons Select Committees meet in private session extremely frequently to go over work plans, questioning plans and to work on the wording of reports and recommendations. There are, as I say, clear public policy reasons to do so.

    I also asked how many people held such private meetings where the PCC was also present. A minority did this. Panels do I think need to be exceptionally careful when going down this road, because if an “external” person is there, you may well find yourself transacting formal Panel business behind closed doors. I am holding my counsel on this but I am not sure how comfortable I am with the idea of Panels meeting PCCs behind closed doors. Support officers did provide some compelling reasons why this worked for them (focusing on the positive impact it had on improving relationships) but as professionals we must see things from the point of view of the public, who are effectively cut out of the governance system by this action.

    Final point – you mention that the LGA guidance should be given little weight – legally you are entirely right, its only “official” characteristic is that it emanates from the LGA as the representative organisation for local authorities. Panels are under no compunction to follow or even to consider it and when writing it I tried to take great care to make this clear throughout.

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      Of course nothing stops members of the panel getting together in private; all that’s not permitted is holding a meeting of the panel in private unless a decision to exclude the public on the grounds confidential material would be disclosed has been taken.

      I think if all members of the panel are invited to a meeting at which they will carry out the work of the panel then that’s pretty obviously a meeting of the panel.

      When House of Commons select committees meet in private the existence of that meeting is publicised.

      If MPs had wanted to allow Police and Crime Panels to meet in private at times when they are not considering confidential material then I think they should have made that clear in the law.

    2. Richard Taylor Article author

      I conducted a quick straw poll to see how widespread the practice of holding private meetings was. Around half of those present do this,

      Would Cambridgeshire’s officers keep up the pretence of being unaware of the private meetings even at a gathering like this I wonder?

    3. Ed Hammond

      I’m not, obviously, a lawyer so don’t speak with the kind of experience a Monitoring Officer would have. But it seems to me that the legal issue is that there is a difference between a “private meeting of the Panel” (which will not happen and is not permitted) and a meeting of the Panel members in private. The latter can happen with impunity, and such non-formal meetings can even be provided with administrative support by officers (this having been provided for in the “New council constitutions” and associated statutory guidance issued by DETR in 1999/2000, which I think makes specific reference to officer support to political Group meetings under certain circumstances and alludes to other informal meetings of councillors too – although I will have to check my copy). Of course, in a practical sense, there is no difference between the two, but when officers in your area deny that “private Panel meetings” happen they are – presumably – referring to the first set of circumstances.

      If all members of the Panel are invited to a meeting at which they will carry out the work of the Panel that is, you’re right, obviously a meeting of the Panel. But when the work carried out is – arguably – preparatory to formal Panel business, or supportive of that business (as it would be if members were developing a questioning plan, or receiving an informal briefing from officers so as to better prepare to scrutinise the PCC on a given point) things might be thought different. The issue hinges on whether such preparatory business is in fact Panel business. You could probably argue that point but I suspect that it would be an expansive interpretation of local government law. Would a meeting of the Panel suddenly be considered a “formal” Panel meeting if a certain number of members of the Panel were there? What might the thresholds be for defining whether a meeting could be properly considered a Panel meeting? Would it be down to the number of people invited, or the number of people who turn up? I have a feeling that there will be case law on this point somewhere!

    4. Richard Taylor Article author

      It is perhaps worth a note that what has actually happened in Cambridgeshire in terms of panel members meeting to decide their approach to scrutiny was behind-closed-doors “working group” meeting which was given the responsibility “to formalise a scrutiny plan for the forthcoming year”. The meeting was held on the 15th of May 2014 and I have discussed it previously, and asked a public question at a panel meeting about it.

      I think that the decision of what items to scrutinise is core to the role of the panel and something which ought to have been discussed in public.

  26. Richard Taylor Article author

    Someone has made a FOI request for the questions asked, and the scores given during the interviews. The questions, as recorded, were as follows. They are largely as I noted above. I’ve commented in bold.

    1. Why they wanted to join the Panel
    2. Who do they feel they represent in Cambridgeshire and how.
      When this question was put to me it was phrased as asking me if I considered myself to be a representative. I gave a clear: “no”.
    3. The challenges facing policing
    4. Working within a team and their role within it,
      When this question was put to me I was asked it in the context of the “team” being the police and crime panel and I was asked how I would work with, and assist, other members
    5. Challenging or influencing decisions
      Nothing I was asked appears to directly relate to this, but I suppose the question on the “approach I would take if I was the only one in the room with a particular point of view” might have been asked under this heading.
    6. How to ensure that the Police and Crime Plan meets the needs of residents of Cambridgeshire.

    The response states what I was told by the panel when they wrote to me to say I was not being recommended to the panel, that:

    As is standard recruitment practice, the Panel made its appointment based upon the answers provided at interview.

    I note I was not told this approach was being used beforehand. I would also question that it is “standard recruitment practice”. Having spoken to people since the interview I have learned that some organisations do use an application form to get people to interview, then disregard that and make appointments solely on the basis of interview performance. Personally I think this is a bit strange, as you are disregarding potentially valuable information in the application materials. Had I known this approach was being used I may have repeated more of what I had written in the application form during the interview rather than assuming it was being taken into account. I did on a number of occasions comment that I had covered something, or expanded on something, in the application form.

    I do wonder if I got no points on question two (during the interview a number of panel members did try and repeat and rephrase the question encouraging me to say something different!). However I did think I got a clear assurance that the panel were making an appointment on merit and not seeking to bring “representation” of groups the panel felt were not currently present on the panel on to it.

    Personally of course, as shown by what I’ve published here, I’m in favour of there being as much transparency as possible around this appointment.

    I received no promise of anonymity that I recall [I've not reviewed the application materials to check], and would not have been at all surprised to see a report go to the panel, in public, naming me, and putting the interview panel’s views on both me and Mr Leigh, to the full panel. I’m aware that in similar processes it is seen as good practice to give decision makers more than one recommended candidate to choose from, and thought that could have been a possible outcome here.

  27. Richard Taylor Article author

    A FOI request has revealed the questions the panel were attempting to score and the scores attributed to each candidate:

    Question Richard Taylor Edward Leigh
    The Panel is looking for someone who can be an independent voice for those who live and work in Cambridgeshire –
    How will you achieve this, who do you see yourself representing?
    1 2
    What do you consider are the challenges facing policing and how do these affect your community? 2 3
    How will you play a role in the team, and how together can we make a difference? 1 1
    Constructive challenge will be a role of the Panel, can you give an example of when you’ve challenged a decision or behaviour. What was the outcome? 1 3
    How would you ensure that the Police and Crime Plan meets the diverse Cambridgeshire population and how could the community influence this? 2 2.5
    Total: 7 11.5

    These questions were not put as written (which is perfectly reasonable); I have noted above how I recall being asked them and how I responded.

    1. paul Lythgoe

      I was pleased that in the event because there were 2 candidates wiling to agree to waive their anonymity that the interview process was made a little more transparent. Without understanding the context of the questions, and the answers actually given I am not sure how much this really tells us. Given that Richard could not recall the the “constructive challenge” question, or the format it took can we presume that the panel didn’t feel the need to ask this question. Your interview with Sir Graham Bright on the eve of the election in the market square was probably evidence enough. The outcome Sir Graham trying first to ignore you and then describing you as “not a member of the public” was priceless. Edward Leigh’s comparatively high score of 3 need only be based on the fact that he wasn’t you! In the end the scoring reflects as much on the panel members as on you. Effective constructive challenge was not what they were really after.

    2. Richard Taylor Article author

      Paul,

      My questioning of the Police and Crime Commissioner and other elements of my activity were not taken into account as the panel “made its appointment based upon the answers provided at interview” – so they specifically excluded my performance to-date, and activities such as attendance at a wide range of public meetings on policing in the force area (other than in so far as I mentioned it in the answers).

  28. Richard Taylor Article author

    I note the scores are out of three and there were three interviewers.

    I don’t know but suspect the scores may in fact be the result of a vote held by the interview panel in respect of each question.

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      Certainly if people ask me to the chance of me applying again would be increased!

      My understanding is the other independent member Christine Graham has resigned.

      I am shocked the panel launched a new recruitment exercise between public meetings without the panel considering how the process could be improved and setting out the skills, knowledge and capabilities they are seeking.

      I’m surprised to see a new deadline of the 30th of June; I think they’ve just extended that. Hopefully there will be an update at the next meeting. Perhaps they’ve had no suitable applicants.

      This latest adverts have been published deep on the Peterborough City Council website with no publicity elsewhere as far as I’m aware. It’s the kind of approach one would expect if they were trying to keep it quiet.

      Despite my previous applications I wasn’t made aware of the new advert.

  29. Richard Taylor Article author

    I’ve not previously published my correspondence with the Disclosure and Barring Service in relation to this application. I am now doing so. In summary they don’t address the question of if the panel’s use of the DBS check and the manner of acquiring the information required is appropriate and acceptable.

    From: Richard Taylor
    Sent: 29 August 2014 12:39
    To: Customer Services
    Subject: Application eligibility enquiry – Urgent

    I am concerned that Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel may be inappropriately requiring “a background check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)” as part of their application process for independent members of their panel.

    I have applied to be an independent member of the panel and have queried a DBS check requirement which I have learned about after having submitted my application and they have written to me to say:

    “This position is subject to a background check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). As you know, the Panel has a number of statutory functions and it is appropriate that Panel members can demonstrate that they are suitable to hold the post. I am sure you will agree that it would be unacceptable for the Panel not to check the background of successful candidates given the responsibility of the position. Hypothetically, if a successful candidate had previously been convicted of a crime, particularly if it was a serious offence, then the Panel would need to consider whether the person remained suitable for the post.”

    I note there is no reference in their justification to working with vulnerable groups, including children, which as I understand it is not part of the role. It is clear to me from the statement I have quoted above the panel’s reasons for requiring a DBS check are unrelated to the protection of vulnerable groups, including children.

    I am also concerned that the panel have not made clear to applicants that some of the information they are requesting via their application form is for the purpose of a DBS check. I only found out about the DBS check requirement when I asked why they required my address history. The panel have not pointed applicants to the DBS guidance for providing information.

    I have asked the panel if they consider a DBS check is statutorily required for the role but while they replied with the above quote have not answered that question.

    Richard Taylor
    Cambridge
    http://www.rtaylor.co.uk

    I received two replies:

    Mr Taylor – I refer to your email dated 29 August 2014.

    The role of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is to help organisations in England and Wales make safer, more informed, recruitment decisions. DBS does this by carrying out checks against police records and, in relevant cases, the lists of those barred from working with children and/or adults.

    Criminal record checks can be requested by employers, voluntary organisations or licensing organisations who are recruiting for positions which will involve, or already have employees in place working with children and/or adults in limited circumstances laid out in legislation. DBS can also process checks for organisations who have individuals intending to work, already working, or applying for licenses for certain specified occupations or posts. The decision regarding an individual’s suitability for a role is the responsibility of the organisation requesting the check.

    My understanding is that Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel is a formal ‘body’ where an ‘office’ or ‘employment’ decision making role is entitled.

    I would expect that a contract of employment exists between both parties; that is Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel and their prospective panel members. This contract amongst other things should contain advice to specify whether there is an entitlement in legislation to apply for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on the panel member.

    To confirm: Specifically the contract should pinpoint why a DBS check is required as part of the ‘recruitment’ process and who is responsible for using the check as part of a suitability decision making process. If this has not been stated precisely, then the legality of the contract of employment may be brought into question.

    Usually a job applicant has no legal obligation to reveal spent convictions. Certain areas of employment that are exempt under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 or may be mentioned in both ROA Exceptions Order and in the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations, for which employers may ask about spent convictions. This is known as asking an exempted question. When answering, the applicant would have a legal obligation to reveal spent convictions.

    The DBS eligibility guidance is provided via the following link.
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dbs-check-eligible-positions-guidance

    I am not clear from the information provided whether an application for a DBS check is relevant in these circumstances. I have therefore requested the advice of our Policy Team here and so I shall provide you with further advice in due course.

    Best Wishes

    Darren Nall
    Customer Relation Advisor
    The Disclosure and Barring Service
    1st South, Shannon Court, 10 Princess Parade, Princes Dock, Liverpool L3 1QY
    Tel: 0870-9090-811 Fax: 0151 676 1730
    http://www.gov.uk/dbs

    For more information about DBS please visit our website or contact our Call Centre which is open 6 days a week, 8am to 6pm weekdays and 10am to 5pm on Saturday. If you would like to speak in Welsh, please phone our dedicated Welsh language line on 0870 90 90 223 which is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Did you know you can track your application(s) online here

    and

    Mr Taylor – further to my email of 13 September I can provide the additional advice from our policy team.

    As the enquirer hasn’t included anything about what the role of a panel member involves and we aren’t able to advise on eligibility in these circumstances.

    If the role is considered to be “employed for the purposes of assisting constables of a Police force” then eligibility would exist for a standard level DBS certificate.

    I trust this advice is helpful.

    I replied:

    From: Richard Taylor
    Date: 19 September 2014 at 14:33
    Subject: Re: FW: E091400725-110801 Application eligibility enquiry – Urgent
    To: Customer Services

    Darren,

    Clearly this is not a conclusive response and not what I was expecting
    given the DBS’ published position suggesting it will investigate and
    determine if a position is eligible for a DBS check.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/349126/DBS_guide_to_eligibility_v6.pdf

    All available information about current appointment to the of an
    independent member of Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Panel is
    available at item 6 at:

    http://democracy.peterborough.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=543&MId=3392&Ver=4

    This includes a role description.

    As it is not a position of employment it doesn’t sound to me as if
    “employed for the purposes of assisting constables of a Police force”
    would apply.

    Regards,

    Richard Taylor
    Cambridge
    http://www.rtaylor.co.uk

    I received an automated acknowledgement but there was no further correspondence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.
Please consider saying where you are from eg. "Cambridge".
Required fields are marked *

*

Powered by WP Hashcash