A question and answer session between the Panel and the newly-elected Police and Crime Commissioner to discuss his priorities and the working arrangements with the Panel going forward.
The Chairman once again welcomed Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner to the meeting and invited him to introduce both himself and his ambitions.
During the course of his introduction, the Commissioner outlined the following key points:
· He and his family had lived in Surrey for 27 years and he wanted the County to be an even better, safer and nicer place to live.
· In addition to having thirty years police experience, he had also set up a number of companies and remained a Reservist Army Officer.
· The biggest challenge facing Surrey Police was one of money. With significant cuts expected over the coming years combined with the fact that 83% of the budget went towards wages, there was a significant threat to policing.
· There had already been a comprehensive review of expenses and he had asked for a full review of the Police’s asset transfer policy to ensure that they achieved the best return possible. The eventual DPCC would be supporting this process.
· Surrey was the worst funded Police Service in the Country, with only 50% of its funding coming from Central Government. This was compared to up to 80% in some other areas.
· He hoped to work closely with the Police and Crime Panel to ensure that he was able to get the most value out of the public purse. He would also be looking to use police powers to seize the ill-gotten profits of criminals to pay for more Police Officers.
The Commissioner explained that during his election campaign he had made a number of promises that would now become the guiding principles for his time in office. These were as follows:
· Take a zero tolerance policing approach: The Commissioner stated that he considered zero tolerance policing to be a mindset. He believed it was important for the Police to set down a marker and actively maintain the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. In order to start this process he would be working hard to change the mindset of not just Police Officers, but also those in local government and other key partners.
· More visible policing: The Commissioner explained that he wanted to work closely with Neighbourhood Policing teams to ensure officers were more visible to residents. He also wanted to explore opportunities for Surrey Police to work more closely with neighbouring forces to share and respond to emergency calls, even if they were technically outside their area.
· Put victims at the centre of the criminal justice system: The Commissioner stated that he would be working closely with senior management at Surrey Police to ensure that victims were given a quality service, from reporting a crime to giving evidence.
· Give residents the opportunity to have a greater say in how the streets are policed: This would be achieved through a number of methods, including regular meetings between the Commissioner and the Police and Crime Panel, leaders and chief executives of boroughs and districts, and local chief inspectors. The Commissioner would also be setting up smaller, local meetings with relevant stakeholders, and would be inviting residents to get involved in the development of the Police and Crime Plan. He would also be looking to introduce monthly surgeries in each borough / district.
· Protecting local policing: The Commissioner stated that he was very worried about the amount of finger pointing that took place following serious incidents. He stated that a situation had arisen where officers were increasingly scared to act for fear of being subjected to investigation after the event. He would therefore ensure that his office stood up for Police Officers, provided that they acted in a law abiding manner.
· Uncompromising in the standards residents expect from the Police: He would expect all Police Officers to provide the highest standard of service, be polite and well-turned out.
Following the Commissioner’s presentation, the Chairman invited questions from Members of the Panel. During the course of the question and answer session, the Commissioner clarified the following points:
· Zero tolerance policing was about putting a marker down and enforcing it. There were naturally resource implications, and these issues would be explored. However, the Chief Constable and other senior officers would play a vital role in feeding down the message to frontline staff.
· Whilst often unpopular with residents, selling police stations was not a always a bad idea as some were not fit for purpose or required significant levels of investment. The more important question was whether the Police were getting the best value when selling assets, and this was something that he the DPCC would be looking into.
· The appointment of Jeff Harris as DPCC would help with school engagement thanks to his experience of working with young people through the Prince’s Trust.
· He was aware that the public did not always believe that sentencing adequately reflected the seriousness of some crimes and would be raising this with MPs. He added that the Chief Constable for Surrey now sat on the National Sentencing Council.
· He did not believe there was a conflict between officers taking a zero-tolerance approach and acting in a professional manner.
· He was treating the role as a full-time position and was working very long hours. He would expect the same to be true for his eventual deputy. All his interests had been declared in accordance with the relevant legislation and his businesses were currently on hold.
· There were naturally certain aspects of the role that he found aggravating, although he knew what to expect when he put himself forward as a candidate and was happy to have been appointed.
The Chairman thanked the Commissioner for his attendance.