The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee today published their report, “Police and Crime Commissioners: progress to date”. As Chief Executive of CoPaCC, I gave evidence to this committee, with CoPaCC’s contribution recognised and commended several times in the HASC report.
On transparency, the Select Committee stated:
30. We are deeply concerned that despite a requirement in statute, and a reminder from the Home Office, some commissioners are still failing to meet their transparency requirements. This information is vital in allowing voters to assess the effectiveness of their PCCs. We recommend that the Home Office and the Association of Policing and Crime Chief Executives continue to pursue this matter with the relevant PCC offices. Furthermore, we recommend that commissioners begin to publish a register of meetings held with external stakeholders.
31. However, we believe this information will be more useful to the public and police and crime panels in holding PCCs to account if it is drawn together to allow meaningful comparisons. As such, we recommend that the Association of PCCs begin collating and publishing all statutory information on its website, and carry out comparative analysis where appropriate. In so doing, it should also highlight those PCC offices that are not meeting their requirements. The Home Office or HMIC should also publish a comparative analysis of the range of ways in which commissioners have approached the 2014 Stage 2 transfer of staff and assets.
The Association of PCCs – the very organisation that the HASC suggests should undertake this work – had this to say about the report:
We recognise the importance of transparency of decision making in terms of public confidence and Commissioners are already working hard to further improve the processes they have in place.
Leaving aside the limiting of transparency to “transparency of decision making” (PCCs’ statutory requirements on transparency are much wider than this), the evidence I’ve seen suggests that most (but not all) PCCs still have a very long way to go on transparency. For some, there’s little to show that they’re “already working hard” to improve in this area. Indeed, the evidence suggests the opposite.
Click here to see one such piece of evidence. It’s a PCC’s webpage where the PCC hasn’t updated their “public access” diary in nearly a year – despite giving a commitment on that very web page to update it at least once a quarter.
CoPaCC will be returning to an examination of PCCs’ transparency later this year. We will then provide an independent, objective and evidence-based review of whether PCCs really are improving on this key statutory area.