Police and Crime Commissioners welcome review of police accountability
The National Audit Office has published a review of police accountability.
The review examined recent changes to financial accountability arrangements for police forces in England and Wales. It addressed the roles and responsibilities of central and local bodies and explored local practices in light of recent reforms.
The review also commented on how data and information can be better used to provide assurance over the value for money of police expenditure.
The report also calls on the Home Office to review a number of elements of police accountability affecting the role of Police and Crime Commissioners including:
- The public’s ability to hold Commissioners to account is hindered by Police and Crime Commissioners not publishing all the data that the 2011 Act requires;
- Police and Crime panels lack powers to act on the information they receive;
- Local auditors may not be scrutinising Police and Crime Commissioners as effectively as they could; and
- HMIC’s inability to inspect Police and Crime Commissioners may create risks to Government’s assurance framework.
Representing the three groups, Tony Lloyd, Chairman of The APCC Board and Greater Manchester PCC, Sir Graham Bright, Cambridgeshire PCC and Ron Ball, Warwickshire PCC said:
“We welcome the National Audit Office recommendations on police accountability. The report acknowledges that since Police and Crime Commissioners were elected, there has been an increase in engagement with the public compared to police authorities. This supports other research which suggests commissioners are much more visible than former police authorities. Police and Crime Commissioners have brought more accountability and transparency into local policing, giving the public reassurance about what the police are doing to tackle crime and issues of community safety in partnership with other agencies.
“However, the National Audit Office expressed concerns about the ease of access by the public to information Police and Crime Commissioners are required to publish under the 2011 Act. To further improve openness, members of the Police and Crime Commissioner Integrity working group have agreed to look at this issue. While transparency is crucial, Police and Crime Commissioners are concerned that their key aim should be local accountability, not national comparability. The Group will report back to Police and Crime Commissioners at the next general meeting on 18th March.
“We also welcome the report’s close scrutiny on ensuring value for taxpayers’ money. All Police and Crime Commissioners are introducing their own checks and balances to monitor force spending and drive greater collaboration between constabularies to increase service resilience and reduce costs. It is essential that Police and Crime Commissioners have access to good quality and timely data, so that we can compare costs and ensure greater consistency on price, whether this information is held by the Home Office or other bodies within the criminal justice system.
“We want to ensure the public are confident that all decisions made are as transparent as possible and made in the best interests of the public.”