Agenda and minutes

Cheshire Police and Crime Panel
Friday, 5th February, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Martin Smith  Tel: 01270 686012 Email:  martin.r.smith@cheshireeast.gov.uk

Link: Click here to watch the meeting or alternatively you can dial in via telephone on 141 020 3321 5200 and inputting Conference ID: 783933517# when prompted

Items
No. Item

37.

Apologies

Members are reminded that, in accordance with governance procedure rule at Part 3 paragraph 2.6, Panel Members, or their constituent authority, may nominate substitute members of the Panel in the event that the appointed representative(s) is/are unable to attend the meeting.  Advance notice of substitution should be given to the host authority wherever possible.  Members are encouraged wherever possible to secure the attendance of a substitute if they are unable to be present.

Minutes:

No apologies were received.

38.

Code of Conduct - Declaration of Interests. Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012

Members are reminded of their responsibility to declare any disclosable pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest which they have in any item of business on the agenda no later than when the item is reached.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

39.

Public Participation

To receive questions from members of the public. A total period of 15 minutes will be allocated for members of the public to speak at Panel meetings. Each member of the public shall be limited to a period of up to 5 minutes speaking. At the Chair’s discretion the period made available for questions and statements may be extended.

 

In order that an appropriate answer to the questions can be given, the deadline for indicating a wish to speak or for submission of questions is 3 clear working days before a meeting of the Panel. The Chair has the discretion to waive the 3-day rule for issues deemed to be urgent.

 

In response to questions or statements the Panel may choose to agree to either provide an agreed verbal response, that will be minuted or to provide a written reply to a questioners chosen address.

 

Those wishing to ask a question or make a statement should register by email to: martin.r.smith@cheshireeast.gov.ukor send the question or statement by post to:

 

Cheshire Police and Crime Panel

Democratic Services and Governance

c/o Municipal Buildings

Earle Street

Crewe

CW1 2BJ

 

A list of those speaking or asking questions at a meeting of the Panel will be drawn up by the Panel’s Secretariat in order of receipt. Copies of questions and statements will be circulated to all Panel members in advance of the meeting and will be made available to the public attending the meeting. Copies will also be available on the Police and Crime Panel’s page of the Cheshire East Council website.

 

Nobody may submit more than one question or make more than one statement at the same meeting, but a supplementary question, related to the subject raised in the question /statement, will be permitted for clarification at the discretion of the Chair.

 

Those speaking or asking questions will not be permitted to address any issue that is the subject of a current or proposed complaint by them against the Police and Crime Commissioner. They are also advised that reference to an issue that could become the subject of a future complaint by them could prejudice the Panel’s consideration of that complaint.

 

The Panel will not accept a question or statement if:

 

There is insufficient detail to enable a proper response to be provided.

 

It is not about a matter for which the Police and Crime Panel has responsibility.

 

It is potentially defamatory, frivolous or offensive against named individuals.

 

It is substantially the same question which has been put at a meeting of the Police and Crime Panel in the last six months.

 

It requires the disclosure of confidential or exempt information.

Minutes:

There were no public speakers.

40.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 74 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 27 November 2020.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Lynn Riley, who had only been appointed to the Panel two days before the November 2020 meeting, asked for her apologies to be noted.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes be approved, with two minor amendments; on page nine the final sentence of the Commissioner’s response to Councillor Findlow’s question on data accuracy should read “The Commissioner advised that, through Scrutiny, he had sought assurances that the Chief Constable had the correct resources in the right places to ensure the integrity of crime data”. The second point related to the bullet point immediately below the above, where the final two sentences should read “The Commissioner acknowledged that he could have private discussions with Panel members, where having taken appropriate advice they could consider matters covered in Part II of his scrutiny meetings. Councillor Thompson indicated that the informal meetings were a good opportunity for the Commissioner to discuss matters that could not be discussed in formal meetings.”

41.

Chair's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chair informed the Panel that he had written to the Chief Constable thanking him for what he had done during time in office and wishing him well for his forthcoming retirement.

 

The Chair informed the Panel that following the work he had undertaken on the Emergency Services Network (ESN), he had been contacted by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee and would shortly be meeting informally with the Committee’s Chair, Meg Hillier MP, a number of other MPs and the Committee’s support officers.

 

On behalf of Panel members, the Chair congratulated Councillor Norman Plumpton Walsh, whose wife was expecting twins.

42.

Dates and Timings of Panel Meetings pdf icon PDF 56 KB

To consider and approve the programme of meetings for the municipal year 2021/22.

Minutes:

The Panel reviewed the suggested programme of meetings for the 2021/22 Municipal Year. Councillor Findlow requested that clashes with Cheshire Pension Fund meetings be avoided if at all possible. Provisional dates for meetings were:

 

Friday 11th June 2021 (Annual Meeting).

Friday 10th September 2020

Friday 26th November 2020

Friday 4th February 2022

Friday 29th April 2022

 

The Panel noted that the meeting planned for Friday 12th March 2021 had been brought forward so as to avoid the pre-election period, in advance of the planned Police and Crime Commissioner elections which would be held in May 2021. The indications were that these elections would be held as planned, but the Panel agreed that should they be postponed due to Covid -19 (as they had been in 2020), the meeting would be pushed back to April.

 

RESOLVED:

 

The programme of meetings be agreed, with the Secretariat authorised to vary meetings when the programme of Pension Fund Meetings for the forthcoming year was known and confirmation received on the date of the Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

43.

Scrutiny Items pdf icon PDF 32 KB

To receive, note and inform any future scrutiny or work programme item.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel reviewed the Commissioner’s scrutiny papers which has been circulated with the Panel’s papers. It was noted that the Task and Finish Group which had been established at the previous Panel meeting would be addressing this issue.

 

Panel members commented that they found the inclusion of the Commissioner’s Scrutiny papers with the agenda and supporting documentation for the Panel to be very helpful. Councillor Riley indicated that she would find it helpful if the Commissioner’s Scrutiny meetings could be recorded and made available to members of the public to listen to at their leisure.

 

There was discussion about the best way of collating and asking questions of the Commissioner. Councillor Riley suggested that it was possible that technology could support the process, noting that MS Teams had a wide range of functionality. Councillor Findlow asked if the minutes of the Commissioner’s Management Board meetings could be shared with the Panel.

44.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To consider the Work Programme.

Minutes:

The Panel’s future work programme was noted.

 

The Chair noted that at the previous meeting of the Panel Councillor Paul Findlow and Mrs Sally Hardwick had commented that the Panel had not discussed the relative merits of Police and Crime Commissioners assuming responsibility for Fire and Rescue Services. There was agreement that this issue should be discussed at the next meeting of the Panel, with external speakers outlining both the perceived benefits and disadvantages of Commissioners assuming responsibility for the File and Rescue Service.

           

RESOLVED

 

That the issue of Police and Crime Commissioners nationally assuming responsibility for Fire and Rescue Services be discussed at the Panel’s next meeting.

45.

Police and Crime Commissioner's Proposed Precept for 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 323 KB

To review the Police and Crime Commissioner’s proposed precept for 2021/22.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed the Commissioner to the meeting.

 

The Commissioner outlined the background to his proposed precept, thanking those Panel members who had been able to attend the detailed informal briefing the held the week before. The Commissioner briefed Panel members on the consultative process he had followed, the outcome of the consultation had fed into the setting of his proposed precept. Taken overall, public support for policing in Cheshire remained very high.

 

The Chair thanked the Commissioner for the informal briefing meeting held the previous week and for the detailed additional information that he had provided following that meeting. He also congratulated the Commissioner for undertaking a consultation exercise under very difficult circumstances.

 

The Commissioner outlined his priorities for the coming financial year.

 

Members of the Police and Crime Panel questioned the Commissioner on a range of issues related to his proposed Precept.

 

Councillor Rob Bissett:

 

Noting the very regressive nature of Council Tax, asked if the Commissioner knew the socio-economic breakdown of those who had responded to his consultative exercise. The Commissioner recognised the limitations of any consultative exercise, especially one conducted at the present time, but noted the steps taken to reach out to those who were traditionally difficult to engage with.

 

Councillor Martyn Delaney:

 

Sought clarification over the numbers responding to the Commissioner’s consultation exercise when compared to previous years. The Commissioner noted a good response from elected representatives at all levels to his consultation. Taken overall 2,282 people had responded, very slightly fewer than in 2020, although the number of online responses had increased.   The Commissioner noted that he had missed the personal contact with people, but that had been a necessary consequence of lockdown.

 

Mr Bob Fousert:

 

Sought clarification on the way in which the Constabulary managed debt, referring to the published performance indicator. The Commissioner responded by stressing the importance of recovering all income that was due to the Constabulary, noting that this was an issue which was regularly followed up by him at scrutiny meetings with the Chief Constable.

 

Noting that a mortgage guarantee scheme was being introduced, sought clarification of the likely ongoing cost. The Commissioner indicated this was a health and wellbeing measure, that should operate at no revenue cost to the Constabulary. The aim of the scheme was to assist Officers and staff get on the “mortgage ladder”. It was also anticipated that it should assist with Officer and staff retention.

 

Making reference to the McCloud judgement which related to public sector pensions, he sought clarification over the likely cost to the Constabulary and the estimates that were detailed in the Commissioner’s supporting papers. The Chair, at the Commissioner’s suggestion, asked Wendy Bebbington, the Constabulary’s Head of Finance to respond. She outlined how the estimated figure had been arrived at.

 

Sought clarification on the expected capital borrowing required by the Constabulary and the impact of any longer term increase in interest rates. The Commissioner explained that the overall levels of Government funding had reduced, meaning that levels of borrowing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.

46.

Overview and Scrutiny of the Police and Crime Commissioner

Questions for the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Minutes:

Members of the Police and Crime Panel questioned the Commissioner on a wide range of issues, including:

 

Councillor Jan Davidson:

 

Sought the Commissioner’s view on a scheme in operation in Wales where those who used cannabis for medicinal purposes, but who purchased the drug illicitly, were given a card by a charity which explained their medical need for cannabis. Having consulted with staff in Warrington Council, Councillor Davidson saw some potential drawbacks in the scheme.

                       

The Commissioner indicated that he was aware of the Scheme from conversations with the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner. His favoured approach would be a national one, he indicated that he would be happy discuss the issue with the Chief Constable and to be involved in a national debate on this issue. He reaffirmed his commitment to working with those with addictions.

 

Councillor Paul Findlow:

 

Noted media coverage about a national shortage in Detectives, asking the Commissioner how this was impacting on Cheshire. He also referred to Cheshire Constabulary’s adoption of a fast track scheme for the recruitment of Detectives, which could see 18-year olds with two A Levels joining the Constabulary. The Commissioner agreed that there was a national shortage and it was an issue that he had discussed with the Police Federation. He noted the contribution that the direct entry scheme could make, but also highlighted the need to make the role of a Detective more attractive and the important contribution that non warranted Police staff could make to detection, although he recognised that reductions in national funding over the years had significantly impacted the number of Police staff.

 

At Councillor Findlow’s request the Commissioner agreed to provide information, in writing, on the current position over the number of Detectives in Cheshire.

 

Councillor Mick Warren:

 

Asked for the Commissioner’s views on Police Officers receiving Covid 19 vaccinations. The Commissioner indicated that he had discussed this issue with the Chief Constable. He supported the principle of Police Officers receiving Covid vaccinations, noting that this was a national issue. He said he would continue to push for a change in national policy.

 

Mr Bob Fousert:

 

Asked why enforcement levels relating to the “fatal five” (careless driving, drink and drug driving, not wearing a seatbelt, using a mobile phone and speeding) were as low as they were in Cheshire. The Commissioner indicated that this was an issue where he constantly scrutinised the Chief Constable. He indicated that he wanted the Constabulary to focus on these issues, recognising also the impact on the Fire and Rescue Service and paramedics. His budget for 2021/22 allocated additional resources to address these issues.

 

Councillor Norman Plumpton Walsh:

 

Sought clarification over the balance between sending warning letters and enforcement over issues such as speeding. The Commissioner indicated that he saw Community Speed Watch schemes as playing an important role in road safety, but that they did have their limitations, especially when it came to enforcement. He could not comment on operational policing issues such as who received warnings and who  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.