What next for successful Police & Crime Commissioners?

Whatever the weather, or turnout for that matter, Police and Crime Commissioners are going to have some big decisions to make when they take office (which they have to have done by the 23rdNovember).

One thing is for certain – they will have a precarious in-tray. An incoming PCC will have 10 weeks to sign off on the police force’s crime plan and budget – which will have already been set by the outgoing Police Authority.

Thus the first test of any Commissioner’s’s mettle (or possibly sanity) will be whether they decide to throw the plan/budget out the window and make their own, or agree what has already been set for the year and settle for some continuity going in to 2013.

It will be a brave (or foolhardy) Commissioner who chooses to rip up the budgets with so little time to come up with an alternative. Many of the candidates who will be frantically trying to turn out the vote today have Police Authority/Policing backgrounds; but many do not. Policing is a complicated business and those candidates (should they succeed) that do not have policing knowledge, beyond the short period of this campaign, will surely be daunted by the challenge that lies ahead.

According to sources in the police and the Home Office it is widely recognised that the next Comprehensive Spending Review will bring further spending reductions to central government budgets, largely forecast as a further 10 percent cut to the central government grant for policing.

Many forces have already gone some way in meeting the challenges of the previous CSR’s 20 percent cut. This leaves little room for manoeuvre when taking on further reductions. This is potentially one area where PCCs can help Chief Constables by providing political top-cover for the inevitably difficult decisions that lie ahead. This is of course assuming that their relationship is constructive.

If it is constructive PCCs have the opportunity to bring real change. They will be unique in their autonomy to make commissioning decisions, and the fact that they will be the single point of contact for providers and the public will go a significant way towards de-cluttering what has often been a murky decision making picture.

The less mentioned Crime part of Police and Crime Commissioner is where they have the most scope to affect change. Perhaps where Police Authorities[…]

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