CSOs ‘replacing officers in crime investigation’

PCSOs are being used to carry out the duties of warranted police officers and pressed into action to investigate crimes such as assaults and burglaries – resulting in no further action being taken.

A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found that in 17 of the 43 forces in England and Wales, PCSOs were being used “inappropriately” for response and investigative policing.

In these forces, the staff were being used daily to not only respond to the initial report of a crime but take on the case and, in effect, investigate it.

In addition to being asked to deal with “volume” crime, HMIs found evidence that PCSOs are being asked to deal with house burglaries and assaults – which should be dealt with by warranted officers.

In an interview with PoliceOracle.com HMI Roger Baker said PCSOs were being inappropriately used because leaders do not have a basic understanding of their demand and the capability of their staff in terms of ability and their physical output.

He said: “Why are you using untrained staff to go and try and do their best when you have got lots of police officers?

“If you are going to use them then they need additional training in investigations and they need their powers extended.

PCSOs are being used well beyond their powers and their roles – they are being asked to be detectives, but they are not trained or skilled to carry out the role.

“I don’t see that demand is outstripping supply for warranted officers – so why are they not being used?”

The report found that PCSOs were still being sent out regularly to certain incidents relating to antisocial behaviour and other neighbourhood problems – in keeping with their role, profile and training.

The report recommends that all forces, by the end of December, should not be using PCSOs to respond to incidents and crimes beyond their role profiles, where they have no powers, or for which they have not received appropriate levels of training.

Mr Baker said: “Local policing should include both staff and warranted officers.”

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor said: “England and Wales has 43 police forces. There are not, and never have been, 43 best ways of doing something.”

Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis, President of the Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, said that the report makes for uncomfortable reading.

She added: “Forces have made significant efforts to save money and have continued to reduce crime as well as doing their best to protect the frontline.

“But the report indicates that while this has been going on, some of the basic functions of policing appear to be slipping through the cracks in some areas.”

Widely reported, this from Police Oracle

See Also Victims ‘are being told to investigate crimes’

Victims ‘are being told to investigate crimes’

Some crimes are on the verge of being “decriminalised” – it has emerged – after an inspection report revealed that call handlers are encouraging victims to carry out initial investigations themselves.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s report into crime prevention, police attendance and the use of police time found that when crimes such as house burglaries and robberies were reported there was clear evidence of police investigative activity and supervision.

But crimes reported over the phone in some force areas showed little evidence of investigation, the report stated.

Some call handling staff were observed by HMIs encouraging victims to conduct their own initial investigations – including suggesting they ask their neighbours if they had seen anything, that they check CCTV in the area and research second hand shops to see if their stolen property was being sold on.

Victims were given a crime reference number and asked to contact the force again if they discovered new evidence.

‘We have almost given up’

The report states: “Placing the responsibility for the investigation entirely on the victim is completely inappropriate.

“In addition to not providing an adequate service to the victim, opportunities are being lost to establish characteristics of these crimes that could contribute to a comprehensive picture and better understanding of crime in an area, enabling a more informed crime prevention response to be devised.”

In addition, when crimes were dealt with over the phone in this manner, there were examples of crimes being recorded, closed and filed the same day – sometimes within minutes of the initial report. In most cases, no further contact with the victim was made.

HMI Roger Baker said: “There seems to be a mindset of not dealing with it. A number of crimes are on the verge of being decriminalised.

“It is not the fault of the staff – it is a mindset that has crept in to say we have almost given up.

“Leadership is key in this. This issue pre-dates the Comprehensive Spending Review budget cuts – it has evolved over the years.

“Leaders need to establish who is doing what – basic management and leadership underpinned by simple process can help.”

Elsewhere, HMIs found that the appointment system for victims of crime was being exploited and that appointments were being made for the convenience of the police – or when an incident should have been dealt with immediately.

“The use of appointment systems in these ways is neither appropriate nor acceptable”, the report stated.


One of the 40 recommendations in the report was that by September 2015 all forces should ensure that their officers and staff involved in the investigation of crime over the phone have received the appropriate investigative training.

By the end of this year forces must have produced clear guidance on the types of crime and incidents that are not appropriate for resolution by way of appointment.

Many of the recommendations in the report seek to strengthen, improve and create systems for recording aspects of policing to allow senior leaders to make informed decisions over the allocation and deployment of their resources.

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor (pictured) said: “The oxygen of effective policing is intelligence. Information is useless if it cannot be found and used at the time and in the circumstances in which it is needed.

“And in policing, if it is inaccessible to those who need it, great harm may occur which could and should have been prevented.”

Widely reported, this from Police Oracle

See Also PCSOs ‘replacing officers in crime investigation’

PCC’s Being Scapegoated

Police and crime commissioners (PCCs) are being allowed to be used as scapegoats by national politicians to deflect failings in their own actions, it has been claimed.

Jeffrey Harris, the deputy PCC for Surrey, has hit out at the negative headlines around the position – claiming they are “missing the point”.

Mr Harris, a former chief superintendent in the Metropolitan Police, who serves under PCC Kevin Hurley, responded to PoliceOracle.com’s story on August 29 in which analysts called for reform of the newly created roles.

Legislation surrounding the office has been called into question, most recently in light of two cases where PCCs have left or been suspended from their political parties.

The Prime Minister, Home Secretary and many members of the public have called on South Yorkshire’s Shaun Wright to stand down in light of his previous responsibility for children’s services in Rotherham for five years, during a longer period which was heavily criticised in the Rotherham report last week.

Mr Harris would not defend Mr Wright, but said: “I think it’s too early to say whether the legislation needs reform.”

He said that the legislation for PCCs was the same as for MPs and the Mayor of London – who oversees policing in the city.

Domestic abuse offence could cover emotional as well as physical harm

Government launches consultation on strengthening law by explicitly stating that domestic abuse covers coercive behaviour

Domestic violence. A new criminal offence could protect abuse victims whose partners cause psychological harm. Photograph: Pekka Sakki/REX

A new criminal offence of domestic abuse could be introduced to include emotional and psychological harm inflicted by a partner within a relationship.

The government launched a consultation on Wednesday to look at strengthening the law by explicitly stating that domestic abuse covers coercive and controlling behaviour as well as physical harm.

The move comes after the way that police respond to domestic abuse in England and Wales was condemned as “alarming and unacceptable” in a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in March.

The consultation document says that police fail to see abuse, particularly in its nonviolent form, as a serious crime, adding: “Creating a specific offence of domestic abuse may send a clear, consistent message to frontline agencies that nonviolent control in an intimate relationship is criminal.

“Explicitly capturing this in legislation may also help victims identify the behaviour they are suffering as wrong and encourage them to report it, and cause perpetrators to rethink their controlling behaviour.”

The latest statistics reported in the Crime Survey for England and Wales suggest that 30% of women and 16% of men will experience domestic abuse during their lifetime.

The Home Office said the type of behaviour a new law could cover included threatening a partner with violence, cutting them off from friends and family or refusing them access to money in order to limit their freedom. Under existing law, nonviolent coercive and controlling behaviour is captured by the legislation that covers stalking and harassment but it does not explicitly apply to intimate relationships.

The home secretary, Theresa May, said: “Tackling domestic abuse is one of this government’s top priorities. The government is clear that abuse is not just physical. Victims who are subjected to a living hell by their partners must have the confidence to come forward. Meanwhile, I want perpetrators to be in no doubt that their cruel and controlling behaviour is criminal.”

In the introduction to the consultation document, May acknowledges that changing the law cannot be a substitute for improving the police response – HMIC found that arrest rates varied from 45% to 90% across the 43 police forces in England and Wales – but says officers must have the best possible tools to do their job.

Polly Neate, chief executive of the charity Women’s Aid, said the change, if implemented, could help give victims greater confidence to speak out sooner. “This is a vital step forward for victims of domestic violence,” she said.

“Two women a week are killed by domestic violence, and in our experience of working with survivors, coercive controlling behaviour is at the heart of the most dangerous abuse. This move demonstrates a strong commitment from the Home Office to listening to victims of abuse in framing the law that serves them.”

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, welcomed the move but said the coalition had presided over a “backwards slide” in action against domestic violence and support for victims. “Under this government, refuges across the country are cutting services and many are threatened with closure,” said Cooper.

“Prosecutions and convictions as a proportion of recorded domestic crime are falling. And over the last four years over 10,000 perpetrators of domestic violence have been handed only community resolutions, with many simply being asked to apologise to their victim.”

From the Guardian

Sleeping lion created for Surrey Police memorial garden

Sculptor Tom Kenrick said the sleeping lion represents peace and tranquillity

A stone sculpture of a sleeping lion has been created as a centrepiece for Surrey Police’s memorial garden.

Somerset sculptor Tom Kenrick, 32, spent nine weeks carving the life-size artwork, which weighs about two tonnes, out of Bath stone.

The force commissioned the lion for a memorial garden being created at its Guildford headquarters, in honour of colleagues who died.

The project has been funded entirely by voluntary contributions.

Surrey Police said the garden was designed to provide a space for staff to remember colleagues who have contributed to policing in Surrey or to take a quiet moment of reflection.

The idea came from officers and staff who wanted a central place for a memorial.

Donations have come from Surrey Police Federation members, members of the union Unison, Chief Constable Lynne Owens, the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley, an external sponsor and retired staff.

Mr Kenrick, who describes his work as inspired by nature, said the lion was intended to represent peace and tranquillity.

He has not revealed how much the commission cost but said the stone was worth several thousand pounds alone.

The plaque by the sculpture reads: “In memory of all those who have contributed to policing in Surrey.”

Surrey Police said volunteers were still working on planting the garden, and its official opening would take place next spring.

From the BBC

The Tories and the Police: The End Of The Affair

Click the picture or here – The Tories and the Police: The End Of The Affair


See also -

Reporter who outed police blogger cautioned

What the job desperately needs now is Leaders NOT managers. The service doesn’t seem to know the difference. Sadly, Leadership is not the only element lacking at the top. Public confidence and that of the troops will never fully return until there is distinct evidence that the Chief Officer standards and qualities are beyond reproach. Over as many months, 18 Chiefs and SMT ranks either disciplined, arrested, or dismissed for unprofessional and even criminal conduct is an indictment of how so many clearly feel they are above the law they are meant to uphold.

How do you instil moral compass values in a hierarchy that doesn’t seem to know the difference between crooked and straight?

The Thin Blue Line Blog

Home Office ordered to pay £224m to e-Borders firm


The Home Office has been told to pay £224m to a major US corporation it sacked for failing to deliver a controversial secure borders programme.

Ministers will pay Raytheon £50m in damages, plus other costs.

The order to make the payments comes from a binding arbitration tribunal.

The e-borders programme launched by Labour ministers in 2003 was a £1bn attempt to reform border controls. In 2007 Raytheon won a nine-year contract for the programme.

BBC story

Surrey Police is one of only two forces with 100% passes in fitness tests

Officers at North Yorkshire Police have the worst fitness levels of 32 forces surveyed in England and Wales, figures show.

The force had a 16.2% test failure rate, with Lancashire coming in second at 6.4% and South Yorkshire with 5.4%, the College of Policing said.

Overall, 352 officers failed in more than 13,000 tests that become compulsory next month.

Humberside and Surrey were the only forces that boasted 100% pass rates.

North Yorkshire’s Assistant Chief Constable Paul Kennedy, said the study did not assess results of all tests officers undertook.

“The actual pass rate for North Yorkshire Police officers who have taken the fitness test is 94.6%, with 1,153 officers passing the test out of 1,219 who have taken it so far,” he explained.

“The results issued by the college today are taken from a small snapshot in time and include the results of only 74 tests.

“Support, advice and encouragement will be provided to any officers who are struggling to reach the required fitness level.”

‘Bleep test’
Rose Bartlett, from the college, said results showed the vast majority of officers tested are fit.

The new tests were brought in after recommendations made by Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor.

The endurance test involves a series of shuttle runs between two lines 50ft (15m) apart at a steadily increasing pace controlled by means of a speaker emitting “bleep” signals in decreasing time periods.

Officers will be expected to pass the bleep test on an annual basis.

Surrey taken test 696 Passed 696 = 100%

From there BBC

Greater Manchester police chief faces criminal investigation

Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester police. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/PA

Sir Peter Fahy, the chief constable of Greater Manchester police, is to be interviewed under criminal caution as part of an investigation into whether his force allowed a teenager to enter the home of an alleged paedophile.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission announced on Tuesday that Fahy and other top officers from GMP had been placed under investigation over a series of allegations. The IPCC has launched three investigations into GMP after hearing claims from a whistleblower, who is a serving officer.

The allegations against GMP included that officers:

• Bugged an office at GMP and allowed armed robbers who were under surveillance to attack a pub instead of stopping them.

• Failed to intervene and detain a suspected sex offender who was under surveillance, but as police tried to gather more evidence, allowed a child to enter the suspect’s home.

• Mishandled the disposal of body parts belonging to victims of the serial killer Dr Harold Shipman.

The IPCC said the investigation into Fahy related to allegations that may breach the criminal law and police discipline regulations. They stem from the allegation that GMP detectives allowed an operation into a suspected paedophile to run on too long, and thus placed a teenager in danger of being attacked. The criminal investigation into Fahy will examine if he had knowledge of the operation into the sex offender and of the strategic decisions it operated within.

The allegations from the whistleblower were first reported by the Manchester Evening News.

Tony Lloyd, police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester, decided Fahy would not be suspended while the investigations took place. As part of the inquiry, Fahy who is vice-president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, will be interviewed under criminal caution.

In a statement, Fahy said: “As a chief constable you face making complex decisions on a daily basis about many high-risk and challenging situations. It is right that this decision-making is scrutinised and that I am held to account as part of this investigation.”

Two detectives and a retired officer are being investigated by the IPCC over the allegations about the suspected paedophile.

In a statement, the IPCC said: “GMP Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy has been served with a criminal and gross misconduct notice in relation to his alleged support to an allegedly poorly handled investigation into a suspected sex offender.

“A detective superintendent and a detective chief inspector were served with criminal and gross misconduct notices for their roles in the investigation. A retired officer will also be served with a criminal and gross misconduct notice over his role in the investigation.”

The IPCC said GMP’s assistant chief constable, Terry Sweeney, was facing an investigation for gross misconduct “for his oversight role in the disposal of body parts belonging to victims of the serial killer Harold Shipman”.

The police watchdog said relatives of Shipman’s victims would be kept informed of the investigation’s progress.

The IPCC said it had decided not to independently investigate claims that cronyism within GMP led to people being unfairly promoted. It had referred the matter back to GMP.

Fahy is currently charged in his role as chief constable of GMP over the police shooting of an unarmed man. GMP are being prosecuted for breaching health and safety laws when Anthony Grainger was shot dead in 2012. The force has pleaded not guilty.

Senior officers have faced a series of investigations in recent times. Of the top 10 forces in England, two have chiefs that are currently suspended pending investigation. They are the West Yorkshire chief, Mark Gilmore, and Avon and Somerset chief, Nick Gargan.

The Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, is under investigation for his actions in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster three decades ago.

From the Guardian

Leslie Frank Curtis

1988 OBE CurtisFellow pensioners

I have received the following email from Norman Lewis. I will forward further details when known.

Tony Forward

“It is with regret that I have to notify you of the death on Monday 11th August 2014, of former Pc 757 Leslie Frank Curtis at the age of 79.

Les had been suffering with Parkinsons and Dementia for many years.

Funeral details etc will be circulated later.

His Wife Eileen has requested that any messages and condolence cards be sent to her. Details available on request.

Tory Foreign Office minister quits over ‘intolerable’ expenses rules

Africa minister Mark Simmonds says he cannot claim enough parliamentary expenses to house his family in Westminster

Proof, if proof were needed, that politicians are out of touch with many ordinary working and retired people of the UK

A Foreign Office minister who resigned on Monday has blamed “intolerable” expenses rules for forcing him to choose between his family and his parliamentary career.

Mark Simmonds, the Africa minister, said he would stand down from government immediately and would leave his Boston and Skegness seat at next year’s general election.

He said that the rental allowance of £27,875 a year plus £2,500 for each of his three children would not be enough to maintain a family home in Westminster and that he would not be prepared to live outside central London.

Simmonds earns £89,435 a year as an MP and minister and employs his wife Lizbeth with up to £25,000 of public money.

His reasons for stepping down have been heavily criticised on Twitter and have exposed the differences in perception of many MPs – who believe that the expenses regime is penalising their ability to live normal family lives – and voters who still believe parliamentarians receive too much public money.

His resignation comes just days after Lady Warsi resigned from her Foreign Office post over the government’s policy on the crisis in Gaza.

Simmonds said he was leaving primarily so he can spend time with his family because he cannot afford to house them in central London.

“The allowances that enable members of parliament to stay in London while they are away from their families – my family lives in Lincolnshire in my constituency – does not allow me to rent a flat that could accommodate my family. So I very rarely see my family and I have to put family life first and every single parent listening to this will hopefully understand,” he told the BBC.

After a spokesman for the expenses watchdog Ipsa pointed out that he has never tried to claim for a flat – he has instead claimed thousands of pounds in hotel fees – Simmonds retorted that there has not been enough support from the parliamentary authorities.

He told the Radio 4’s PM programme: “It is primarily financial support that is needed … It doesn’t stretch anywhere near the cost of renting a flat in Westminster.

“Of course if MPs want to get into the business of travelling extensively from Westminster to the outer reaches of London to rent a flat then that’s up to them but that’s not the lifestyle I want and it’s not the lifestyle I have chosen for myself or I want for my family.”

Last year, Simmonds was named by his local paper as the most expensive MP in Lincolnshire after it was calculated that he had claimed £173,436.96 in expenses for 2013.

Downing Street said Simmonds’ resignation was unrelated to Warsi’s departure. Simmonds had agreed to resign at the time of last month’s reshuffle after deciding not to contest his seat at the next election. But he was allowed to stay on to chair a meeting of the UN security council on the Democratic Republic of the Congo last week. The UK assumed the presidency of the security council on 1 August.

Simmonds is the latest Tory MP to announce stepping down in a seat targeted by Ukip. Laura Sandys is standing down in Thanet South, which is expected to be contested by the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage.

Gawain Towler, a leading Farage ally, tweeted after Simmonds’ announcement: “Mark Simmonds going, nothing to do with the impact of Ukip in his constituency.” The prime minister praised Simmonds, but relations became strained when Simmonds missed a key vote on Syria during last year’s recall of parliament because he was at a meeting to discuss Rwanda with Justine Greening, the international development secretary.

Simmonds is replaced by the highly Eurosceptic former whip James Duddridge, who said last year that Britain should tell the EU to “sod off” rather than pay benefits to Romanians and Bulgarians.

Widely reported, this from the Guardian

See also Mark Simmonds: Expenses system gave Foreign Office minister a £500,000 lift in the Telegraph where it shows that he bought a house for £650,000 in Putney (not Westminster) during 2001 which he was quite happy to own whilst UK taxpayers paid his mortgage interest until 2009. He then sold it for a profit of £537,500. It also details his “Other earnings” but I am going to stop now as I am getting very angry!!

Police widows: ‘Pension rules condemn us to loneliness’

Spouses of officers who died in service have ‘widow’s pensions’ cancelled if they remarry or live with a new partner.

Widows of murdered police officers are calling on the government to allow them to keep their spouse’s pension if they remarry or live with a new partner – claiming current rules condemn them to a future life of loneliness.

Christine Fulton (pictured), whose husband PC Lewis Fulton was stabbed to death while on duty in Glasgow in 1994, is among those forced to chose between “love or money” under rules which mean her husband’s pension is cancelled if she now marries or cohabits with her new partner.

Ms Fulton, who co-founded charity Care of Police Survivors, has been in a relationship for eight years.

She said: “Lewis paid into his pension for our future. Just because he didn’t have a future does not mean that I don’t.”

She describes the police pension she receives as “his last gift to me, and to part with it is to part with him.”

Pension changes

In 2006 all serving police officers were given the chance to sign up to a new pension that allowed “pensions for life” for loved ones left behind should the worst happen.

Many officers chose not to switch and stuck with the old pension, which was in some respects more generous.

Ms Fulton acknowledged that many officers had not joined the new scheme, but she added: “The point is that they had the choice.”

Earlier this year Northern Ireland reinstated pensions for those whose “widow’s pension” had, under the Royal Ulster Constabulary Pension Regulations 1988, ceased upon their remarriage.

The change applies to widows whose late husband died in service from January 1, 1989, as well as those who retired on or after January 1, 1989 and subsequently died. It also covers widowers.

Ms Fulton said in an interview with PoliceOracle.com: “The UK government was adamant that pension rules could not be made retrospectively. They have done it in Northern Ireland. If they can do it there, why can’t we do it here?”

Difficult decisions

Cathryn Hall – whose West Midlands Police dog handler husband Colin died from a heart attack at the scene of an incident in 1987 – said she was faced with a “very difficult decision” in 2001: to keep her widow’s pension or move in with her new partner. She chose the latter.

She said: “Our financial lives have been a roller coaster ride since then but we have been happy.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The government is committed to ensuring that public service pensions are affordable, sustainable and fair, both for the members of those schemes and other taxpayers.

“Officers who join the 2006 police pension scheme do benefit from life-long pensions for widows and widowers. All serving officers were offered the opportunity to transfer to this scheme when it was introduced.

“In common with most other public service pension schemes of the time, the 1987 pension was not designed or funded to provide such benefits. Attempting to back-date this or any pension of this type, would have serious implications across the whole public sector.”

From Police Oracle

If you feel this is a worthwhile cause visit here to register your support.

Police officer numbers show sharpest fall in Europe

The number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen more sharply than in any other country in Europe, new figures have disclosed.
Data compiled by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics unit, compared police numbers across Europe and found a decline of 9,934 officers in England and Wales from 2010 to 2012.
The next largest fall was in France with a drop of 7,280 to 203,982 over the same period, followed by the Czech Republic with a 4,809 fall.
Spain saw a rise from 241,000 to 249,000 despite its economic woes.
Greece recorded a decline from 59,497 officers in 2010 to 54,657 in 2012, a fall of more than 4,800.

The figures were highlighted by Labour but a Home Office spokesman pointed out that Eurostat warns there are problems making direct comparisons between the number of officers in different countries.
The information only covers up to 2012 and the number of police officers in England and Wales has since fallen even further, but no EU comparisons are available for the more recent period.
According to latest Home Office figures there were 127,909 police officers at the end of March in England and Wales, 4,289 lower than the number recorded by Eurostat.
Despite the decrease in the number of officers crime levels have continued to fall, but critics say the true picture is impossible to know because of serious reservations about the accuracy of crime recording by the police.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has praised the police for achieving what she said were excellent results at a time of public spending austerity.
She has said forces are “doing more with less” and described the police as “the model public service in the era of budget cuts”.
Jack Dromey, the shadow police minister, said: “Theresa May tops the European League, cutting more Police Officers than any other country in Europe.
“The thin blue line is being stretched ever thinner with ever more serious consequences.”
He added: “Neighbourhood policing is being hollowed out with growing complaints from the public that they just don’t see their bobbies on the beat any longer.
“Victims of crime are being let down with violent and sexual crime going up and prosecutions going down.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “These figures are not comparable between European countries and Eurostat, the official body, warns against doing so.
“Police reform is working and crime is down by more than 10 per cent since 2010. Under this government the proportion of officers in front line roles has increased from 89% to 91%.
“Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s latest Valuing the Police report shows forces are balancing their books while protecting the frontline and delivering reductions in crime. What matters is how officers are deployed, not how many of them there are.
“Police and crime commissioners and chief constables are best placed to make decisions about the most effective use of resources and to ensure forces are delivering on the issues that matter in their areas.”

From the Telegraph

National PCC association suffers ‘substaintial loss’

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) continues to operate at a substantial loss despite having cut its deficit to just over £80,000.

The APCC’s total loss before tax was £81,258 for the last financial year – a reduction from the previous 12 months, when its deficit totalled just under a quarter of a million pounds.

The organisation cited “corporate changes,” including its move into new offices in the heart of Westminster, as well as capital spending on technological gear which it says will help achieve future savings. The spending on technology was met from the association’s reserves.

A spokesman for the APCC stressed that the association – a company limited by guarantee – always sought to achieve best value in its spending.

However, commercial sensitivity means the precise details of spending decisions may never be released for public scrutiny.

‘Doesn’t sound cheap’

Some commentators have questioned why the APCC needs to be based in relatively expensive offices in The Sanctuary, Westminster Abbey – a prime central London spot – rather than at a cheaper location in the provinces.

Sam Chapman, who edits the TopOfTheCops blog, said: “In the modern world, do we really need to have everything based in London? Even the BBC has moved to Salford. The shift in responsibility for police and crime commissioners is more towards a local rather than a national focus.”

He said that having offices at Westminster Abbey “sounds nice, but I’m sure it isn’t cheap”.

The APCC had previously shared offices with the Association of Chief Police Officers.

The organisation’s outlays last year included spending on video conferencing equipment to allow police and crime commissioners (PCCs) to meet with each other without having to shell out on travel expenses.

A “closed” area of the organisation’s website where PCCs can privately share advice around best practice in areas such as media management has also been set up.

Nick Alston (pictured), the APCC’s recently elected new chairman, said: “One of the reasons the APCC moved was because members wanted an office that was independent of any police stakeholder. Moving to our new offices we have saved 20 per cent a square foot, therefore achieving better value for money for the space we have.”

He added: “Government departments and the majority of police stakeholders are based in London, including the College of Policing, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and the National Crime Agency. The directors agreed that PCCs needed a London office to ensure they can influence at a national level effectively.

“Our new office also offers facilities for PCCs to use when visiting London to attend the many meetings held there.”

He said the annual report that the deficit figures came from was released in line with the association’s commitment to transparency.

Uncertain future

Analyst Bernard Rix, Chief Executive of CoPaCC – a body that monitors PCCs – said that the APCC would “ideally” not be spending in excess of its total income through subscriptions.

He said: “The key challenge for the APCC is to cut its costs according to its means. If PCCs are not willing to pay enough to cover all the activities it is doing, it can only run on reserves for so far.

“If PCCs want the APCC to do more, at some point you cannot do more for less. I know it’s the thinking currently that you should do more for less, but at some point you cannot.”

In the 2012/13 financial year the APCC received a £155,943 Home Office grant. But its income is mostly generated through subscriptions from its members.

Mr Rix criticised the APCC’s “lack of transparency,” saying it used to regularly post official correspondence from individual PCCs on its website but has not done so since May.

He added: “It’s a great shame, because these are things the general public would be interested in. This is a public body, it’s publically funded.”

Within the Labour Party senior figures are thought to be sympathetic to the idea of abolishing police and crime commissioners – and with an election coming up, a question mark hangs over the future of the office.

It is not known what will happen to all the kit the APCC has acquired if PCCs are abolished.

Nick Alston, Essex’s PCC, replaced Greater Manchester’s PCC Tony Lloyd as chairman of the APCC’s board in July.

From Police Oracle

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