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Commissioner Jones’s critical friends turn out to be rather critical

Commissioner Jones’s critical friends turn out to be rather critical

🕔04.Apr 2013

The West Midlands Police and Crime Panel, a ‘critical friend’ to Police Commissioner Bob Jones, has certainly been critical, if not altogether friendly in its deliberations so far.

Asked to scrutinise Jones’ draft Police and Crime Plan setting out priorities for the coming year, the committee of local councillors posed a killer question about the document’s aspirations: “How will you actually achieve what you are promising to do?”

In a report that could be described as blunt and to the point, Mr Jones was told: “Overall, we felt the plan could have included more detail about how aspirations would be achieved.

“We also note that you assured the panel that precise action plans would underlie all of the deliverables listed in your plan – we look forward to seeing clear links to these action plans in a future iteration, along with some definitive timescales.”

The heavyweight panel includes the leaders and deputy leaders of West Midlands councils and was set up to monitor Jones’s performance as PCC.

The report went on to hit out at “unclear and unambitious” targets to reduce crime and called for “greater clarity” to enable communities to judge the PCC’s success, or lack of success.

In response to the Commissioner’s suggestion that targets be replaced by “direction of travel”, the panel had this to say: “If you wish to set a direction of travel instead of a specific target, can you outline in the plan what the measurements will be, what are the current baselines (and trends of the last two years). If this is not possible in the time frame you have can you indicate when and where this will be published.”

Panel members took Jones’s specific objectives to task, demanding to know how increased public confidence in policing will be achieved and asking the PCC to set specific targets for reducing hate crime and domestic violence.

There was also an implied rap across the knuckles for Jones, a member of real ale society Camra, in respect of an apparent lack of detail in the Police and Crime Plan to alcohol-related incidents.

“We note and welcome the priority of tackling drugs. However, given the impact of alcohol in the region we were surprised by its omission from the plan, especially given it is raised as a priority in the Local Policing Plans of Sandwell, Coventry, Solihull and Birmingham.

“We feel that alcohol has a severe impact on a lot of young people and is an area where prevention / reducing recurrences can have a positive impact. Tackling both alcohol and drug abuse for young people should be a key priority in the plan and we wish to see some outturn measures included.

“We would like an assurance regarding robust measures to tackle drunkenness in public places in order to reduce anti-social behaviour and risks of violence.”

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