Police and Crime Commissioners/Police Oversight

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 5th January 2015.

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Photo of John Pugh John Pugh Liberal Democrat, Southport 2:30 pm, 5th January 2015

What assessment she has made of the effect of city deals and other forms of devolution on the future of police commissioners.

Photo of Nick Brown Nick Brown Labour, Newcastle upon Tyne East

Whether her Department plans to devolve police oversight functions to city mayors outside London.

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

With permission, Mr Speaker, I shall answer questions 2 and 16 together.

Police and crime commissioners have brought direct accountability and localism to policing in this country, and, as we have seen in London, incorporating the role of the PCC in mayoral devolution has worked really well, especially under this excellent London Mayor.

Photo of John Pugh John Pugh Liberal Democrat, Southport

I thank the Minister for that response. Given the terms of the Manchester city deal, does he agree that police and crime commissioners could become surplus to requirements? Would not culling them result in useful savings?

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

No; the police and crime commissioners are doing an excellent job. They bring accountability. The only bid to incorporate the PCC role at the moment is the bid from Manchester, and I look forward to seeing it working on the ground.

Photo of Nick Brown Nick Brown Labour, Newcastle upon Tyne East

How will these arrangements work in the north-east of England, which has one economic zone—incorporating Durham, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear—but two police authorities and two police and crime commissioners? Does the Home Office propose to merge the police authorities and their commissioners or to transfer their functions to a new individual?

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

It is entirely up to the local community to decide what it wants. If we look at other parts of the country, we can see that West Mercia and Warwickshire are working closely together. If the police authorities in the right hon. Gentleman’s area wanted to merge, they would need to put their business plan to us. It is not only the big cities that could come together; such proposals could involve rural areas as well.

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Does the Minister recognise that the police and crime commissioners can work only within the resources and policy frameworks that are set nationally? Will he take this opportunity to support community policing and to reject the ridiculous suggestion from Tom Winsor that the police should ignore offences such as shoplifting and antisocial behaviour?

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

We will make sure that local communities decide what sort of policing goes on in their area, and PCCs have the role of making sure that is happening. There are excellent Labour and Conservative PCCs around the country, and I cannot understand why the Labour party wants to get rid of its own people who are doing a good job.