POLICE and CRIME COMMISSIONERS - Opportunity or Threat?
What’s changing and what are the implications for the voluntary sector?
Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) are new!
In the South West there will be five elected individuals to replace the current Police Authority Boards so one person for each police authority area: Avon & Somerset; Devon & Cornwall; Dorset; Gloucestershire and Swindon & Wiltshire.
This is a fundamental change and will introduce a new style of governance and accountability structure for the police, removing the current Local Police Authories.
For Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations concerned with criminal justice, community safety and work with offenders and their families the changes are significant in terms of how those priorities are determined and how they are funded.
The PCC role binds together the community safety role and Police governance role under one person. The Government sees this as putting the public ‘back in the driving seat’. There will be a new Police and Crime Panels, established in each police force area to provide some measure of local accountability. Panels will be made up of not fewer than 10 elected councillors (at least 1 from each constituent local authority), plus at least 2 and a maximum of 24 co-opted members.
PCC - Opportunity or Threat?
Existing funding arrangements from local Community Safety Partnerships will end and the new PCCs will be able to access the community safety fund from 2012. New crime and disorder grants to fund or commission services from the VCS will be at the discretion of the PCC.
This could be an opportunity for the VCS that are active in community safety, working with victims of prejudice-based crime, supporting victims, reducing reoffending, working to address violence against women and girls, substance misuse and work with vulnerable young people. BUT only if this work supports the PCC new Police and Crime Plan in your PCC area. Each PCC will decide how these funds are used and from 2014 this funding will be part of the general policing budget and not ring-fenced in any way.
As a VCS organisation your relationship with your PCC is critical. Your ability to demonstrate the impact of your work is vital especially in making the link with your activities and services to the Police and Crime Plan priorities. The Safer Future Communities project has been set up by the Home Office to do just this, and support frontline VCO’s to prepare for these changes.
For equality groups and other marginalised groups it is really important that you are networked with the Safer Future Communities partnership in your area (see below), and that your voice is heard. Let us know at South West Forum or Equality South West if there are any barriers for you in participating in the network or contact Isabel Livingstone at CLINKS isabel.livingstone a_t clinks d_o_t org
South West Forum is currently offering a range of activities to strengthen the voice and influence of the voluntary and community sector, contact Deborah or Beverly on 01392 247901
What can I do to find out more?
Safer Future Communities project led by Clinks www.clinks.org in partnership with NAVCA and other partners is set up to support frontline organisations to prepare for the PCC relationship and understand the new community safety funding landscape. There are networks in your area that provide information, support and training and can provide reasonable expenses to support your involvement.
See http://www.clinks.org/services/sfc for Policy Briefings and further information on the PCC changes.
START NOW! Contact your local Safer Future Communities partnership in your area now based in each Police authority area:
Avon & Somerset: VOSCUR Bristol (Voluntary Organisations Standing Conference on Urban Regeneration), Matthew Symmonds – email: matthew a_t voscur d_o_t org Phone: 0117 909 9949 http://www.voiceandinfluence.org.uk/VCSPCCNetwork
Devon & Cornwall: Devon Reform, Sarah Carlsen Browne, email: sarah a_t devonreform d_o_t org
Phone: 01392 666722 www.devonreform.org for Safer Future Communities webpage
Dorset, Poole & Bournemouth: Bournemouth Council for Voluntary Service, Vivienne Aird, Email: viv.aird a_t bournemouthcvs d_o_t org d_o_t ukPhone: 01202 466130 http://www.bournemouthcvs.org.uk/CriminalJusticeForum.asp
Gloucestershire: GAVCA – Gloucestershire Association for Voluntary and Community, Sally Pickering, Email: sallyp a_t gavca d_o_t org d_o_t uk Phone: 01452 509700 www.gloshub.org.uk
Wiltshire & Swindon: Wessex Community Action, Jane Davies, Email: jane a_t wessexcommunityaction d_o_t org d_o_t uk Phone: 01222 42147 http://saferfuturecommunitieswiltshire.wordpress.com/
NEXT! Vote - the elections in every police force area in England and Wales are on 15th November 2012. To vote at this election you must be registered on the electoral roll by Wednesday 31st October. To register to vote, go to aboutmyvote.co.uk