The public were today (Friday November 16) invited to have their say on proposals to transfer the role of the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) to the office of the Mayor of the West Midlands.
Residents, businesses and organisations can give their views during an eight week-long public consultation being held by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The consultation is part of the region’s latest devolution deal which commits government, the WMCA and PCC to work together on drawing up a process for the transfer of the PCC’s powers and responsibilities.
Seeking the public’s views is a key component of the transfer process which was agreed earlier this year by the region’s council leaders who make up the WMCA Board. A second consultation will start in January 2019.
This first consultation will ask for views on the principle of transferring the PCC role to whoever wins the Mayoral election in May 2020. If there is no transfer then voters will face two ballots – one to elect a Mayor and one to choose a PCC.
The transfer would not change the type of incidents and emergencies that police officers attend. Day-to-day policing would remain the responsibility of the Chief Constable who has operational independence.
Dr Henry Kippin, WMCA director of public service reform, said: “Devolution has seen significant powers and funding moved from Whitehall to the West Midlands over the last couple of years, driving an £8 billion investment package that can help secure a more prosperous future for all our communities.
“The latest devolution deal also included a commitment to explore the proposed transfer of the PCC role to the office of the Mayor of the West Midlands.
“We believe there are a number of potential benefits for policing and crime reduction and it’s important the public have their say. We would encourage them to do so through this consultation.”
Dr Kippin said the proposed transfer offered the opportunity for the region’s emergency and wider public services to work together in a more joined up, co-ordinated way.
That could see greater collaboration between police, fire and ambulance and those services that work to improve people’s opportunities for better housing, skills, jobs and transport – all factors that can influence crime.
The WMCA believes that transferring the role would also provide clearer accountability for people, businesses and government by making the Mayor the single accountable figure in the West Midlands, able to work across a range of services.
In staging the consultation, which will include seven exhibition events around the region, the WMCA has sought the views of both the PCC and the Mayor’s office.
Seeking the public’s feedback also reflects the view of the Mayor’s office and the WMCA Board that any transfer of the PCC role must be underpinned by a robust consultation as part of the wider commitment to devolution and local democracy.
Under the proposals being set out in the consultation, the role, duties and responsibilities of the PCC would not change but from 2020 they would be discharged by an elected Mayor instead of an elected PCC.
This includes the overarching role of the PCC to secure an effective and efficient police force and responsibility for setting the priorities for policing as well as the force’s budget. The role is also responsible for the appointment of the Chief Constable and for holding them to account.
As an elected official the PCC is ultimately accountable to the general public while the Police and Crime Panel has a statutory role to support and scrutinise the PCC. That would also apply to a Mayor with PCC responsibilities.
People can find out more information about the proposals and give their views by taking part in the survey at www.wmca.org.uk/policeconsultation
The consultation closes on Friday 11 January 2019.
Feedback can also be given by visiting one of the events which will be held on the WMCA’s exhibition bus except for the event inside New Street Station*.
The events will be held on:
Tuesday 27 November, 3pm to 8pm, West Bromwich Bus Station, Stand A, West Bromwich Ringway, St Michael Street, B70 7AB
Saturday 1 December, 9am to 3pm, Queen Square, Wolverhampton City Centre, WV1 1TH
Wednesday 5 December, 9am to 3pm, Ironmonger Row, behind Primark, Coventry City Centre, CV1 1FD
Saturday 8 December, 9am to 3pm, Dudley Market Place, near the Duncan Edwards Statue, DY1 1PJ
Monday 7 January, 2019 10am to 5pm, Mell Square, near Marks and Spencer, Solihull town centre, B91 3AT
Tuesday 8 January 2019, 12pm to 6pm, Main concourse*, by the information screens inside New Street Railway Station, Birmingham
Wednesday 9 January 2019, 3pm to 7pm, Walsall town centre, Park Street near to Poundland, WS1 1LY