Kent Police and Crime Panel (PCP)
- Meeting of Crime and Disorder (Overview and Scrutiny) Committee, Wednesday 22 July 2015 7.00 pm (Item 8.)
At the Committee’s invitation, to receive a verbal update from the Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Chris Shippam, Dartford’s representative on the PCP.
The Committee received an update from the Deputy Leader in his role as Dartford representative on the Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel (PCP).
The Deputy Leader advised the Committee that following his participation in the PCP meeting held on 2 June 2015; his first impressions were that the Panel appeared to have limited scope in which to properly question the performance of Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Ann Barnes. The Panel comprised Councillor Representatives from all Kent District Councils, plus two Independent Co-optee members and was politically balanced. Mike Hill (Independent) had been re-elected as Chairman for the ensuing Parliamentary cycle.
The PCC had reported her new Chief of Staff to the Panel as Mr Adrian Harper, selected from three in-house candidates for appointment on a provisional basis, given that the continued role of PCC’s had been uncertain prior to the outcome of the General Election. Subsequent to the Election Mr Harper’s appointment had been confirmed on a long-term basis.
The PCC had also presented her Annual Report for 2014/15 to the Panel and highlighted the following points:
· Victims were now placed at the heart of all policing processes in Kent with Kent Police regarded as leading the country in this new approach;
· The ‘Track my Crime’ initiative had been well received by the public and judged a great success;
· Kent Police’s recording of reported crime now stood at 96% accuracy following the inspection of the Kent Force by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in 2013/14. She noted that in comparison, figures for crime recording accuracy in other Forces were as low as 82%;
· Some £300K of the Kent Police budget had been targeted for the [selective] use of body worn video cameras to help record crime and Police performance;
· Operation ‘Athena’ an intelligence sharing strategy between Kent Police and neighbouring Forces (particularly Essex Police) was due to be rolled-out in the Spring of 2016;
· The Kent Youth Commissioner had completed her contract in February 2015 with a creditable performance in adverse circumstances. However, the PCC had decided to widen her youth engagement policy and replace the Youth Commissioner post with a new Youth Advisory Group (YAG). Representatives from existing youth forums across Kent would be invited to participate in YAG which would be funded by the monies previously allocated to the Youth Commissioner post. Panel Members had encouraged the PCC to widen her proposed membership of YAG, to include disaffected and marginalised members of the Youth community more at risk of involvement in crime and ASB. Engagement with young people from the Gypsy and Traveller community had also been advocated by the Panel;
· Only three (3) Complaints against the PCC had been heard by the Complaints Sub-committee in the period under review. None had been upheld;
· Kent Police represented excellent Value for Money (VfM) returning the 4th lowest policing cost per head in the country
The Divisional Commander, Chief Supt. Adrian Futers expanded on the VfM point in the PCC’s Annual Report. He advised the Committee that Kent Police had experienced some £180M in cuts during the course of the last Parliament and subject to confirmation in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement; Kent Police could expect to face further cuts of up to 40%, together with those Government Departments whose funding was not ring-fenced. Given that 89% of the current Police budget represented staffing costs, further cuts on such a scale would be difficult to achieve. A reduction in the number and grades of senior police officers was proposed to protect the number of front-line officers. Increased use of civilian Police staff in lower salary bands was also being mooted to cover duties which did not require powers of arrest. The Divisional Commander believed that the Kent Police budget for 2015/16 would be safe from cuts but that the future fiscal picture for Kent and all Forces in England and Wales was uncertain.