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West Midlands Police Commissioner Bob Jones publishes blueprint to end his career

West Midlands Police Commissioner Bob Jones publishes blueprint to end his career

🕔28.Nov 2013

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones is continuing to talk himself out of a job by publishing a blueprint for the future of policing showing how he could be replaced by boards of volunteers and local business representatives.

Mr Jones wants to establish local policing and crime boards covering each of the seven West Midlands councils. The boards could have elected chairmen, who might be called commissioners, and would consist of community activists, representatives of victims’ organisations and business leaders, but would not have a party political majority.

He thinks the idea could be replicated across the country, doing away with the PCC model which he insists is “deeply flawed”.

Mr Jones, who has spoken out about his dislike of the PCC system since being elected the West Midlands £100,000-a-year commissioner in 2012, was responding to Lord Stevens’ independent review of policing.

Mr Jones is already developing local policing and crime boards, based on his belief that the West Midlands is far too large for the police to be controlled effectively by a single commissioner.

Mr Jones explained: “I would suggest a model that I feel would be much more appropriate than both PCCs and the previous police authorities, particularly in the West Midlands where the police cover an area too big for communities to meaningfully identify with.

“The approach would be very similar to one of the options in the Stevens report.  I would base a future structure on my developing model of local policing and crime boards, where each of the seven cities and boroughs is producing a board that is itself an evolution of the statutory Community Safety Partnerships set up after the 1998 Crime & Disorder Act.

“The local policing and crime boards are becoming a community-led local accountability structure, where instead of the CSP approach – which mainly saw heads of statutory services around the table – the majority membership will be members of the local community and representatives of victims’ organisations, small businesses, and voluntary organisations.

“The impact of a board representing the whole of the community would, I believe, give greater ownership and confidence than accountability by a single remote politician.

“In the West Midlands the local policing and crime boards will set the local policing plan, have community safety funds to disburse in support of that plan and will very much drive the priorities of their Local Policing Unit.

“If there is a desire to keep an elected representative, the chairs of such bodies could be elected and could even be called a commissioner.  With minor legislative changes they could additionally be involved in the appointment of local commanders and local policing budgets.”

Mr Jones continued: “It is worth noting that in the West Midlands the Birmingham chair, or commissioner, for the local policing and crime board would still cover an area with a population of 1.1 million people – twice the size of a PCC area like Warwickshire.

“In areas like Warwickshire you could simply operate on the current county area, but still gain efficiency by bringing together the office of the PCC and Community Safety Partnership administrations, rather than again having a model thrust on us by manifesto commitments emanating from think tanks with little understanding of or sympathy with policing.”

Mr Jones, a former Labour councillor, has cautioned his party against making an election commitment to abolish PCCs.  He said: “I would advise doing everything we can to build consensus and stability in how we support and scrutinise policing, possibly including a Royal Commission.”

Cover Image: Bob Jones & Deputy PCC Yvonne Mosquito

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