Members of the Police and Crime Panel questioned the Commissioner on a range of issues, including:
Mr Bob Fousert:
· Noted the commitment of the new Chief Constable of Greater Manchester to devote more resources to issues such as burglaries and to his commitment to see his officers smartly turned out. He asked the Commissioner for his views on these issues.
The Commissioner confirmed that Cheshire’s new Chief Constable would adopt a similar approach. He expressed dissatisfaction with current detection rates for offences such as burglary and promised a significant improvement in the way in which crime was dealt with in Cheshire.
Cllr Paul Findlow:
· Sought clarification over the Commissioner’s plans for enforcing speeding in Cheshire, particularly in rural areas. The Commissioner responded by saying he was committed to addressing this issue and that work was being undertaken to develop a comprehensive approach. This would be shared with the Panel, probably at an informal meeting. Mr Evan Morris, the Panel’s Chair welcomed this approach.
· Asked if the Commissioner’s Office could publish reports for issues discussed at Scrutiny Meetings at the same time as the agenda, not weeks later as was the current practice. The Commissioner agreed to take this issue up with his staff.
Cllr Martha Lloyd Jones:
· Sought clarification over whether the Commissioner would be prepared to work with local authorities over Safer Streets funding. He indicated that he wished to work with all local authorities and all of Cheshire’s Members of Parliament.
Cllr Martyn Delaney:
· Sought clarification over the Commissioner’s move to Police HQ, asking if any cost savings had been identified. The Commissioner responded by saying that it had been illogical for the previous Commissioner to have moved the Office to Stockton Heath. He had moved back to Police HQ on his first day in post and his staff had also moved. Such a move would have associated costs, these were not yet known, but in his opinion, it was vital that he was co-located with the Chief Constable.
Cllr Lynn Riley:
· Sought the Commissioner’s view as to how he would hold the Chief Constable to account over issues such as partnership working with local authorities and such things as the enforcement of speed limits. She noted that all four Cheshire Council’s had invested heavily on such things as 20 mph zones, but that speeding in more rural areas was an issue. She also highlighted issues of rural crime more generally.
The Commissioner stressed the importance of partnership working, especially with local authorities. He gave the example of speed limit signs that were obscured or difficult to read, maintenance of such signs was a local authority responsibility, but poor maintenance created enforcement issues for the Police.
Mr Evan Morris:
· Asked the Commissioner if he was confident that community safety partnerships across Cheshire were delivering against key objectives. The Commissioner indicated that he planned to meet with the local authority Chief Executives over this important issue.
Cllr Peter Lloyd Jones:
· Sought clarification over the operation of the fast track detective scheme in Cheshire and any impact the scheme had on overall Police numbers. The Commissioner indicated that those wishing to become detectives had to apply to join the Police in the normal way and then serve as a uniformed officer for two years; at which point they could sit a crime examination. If successful they could become a detective and receive additional training in this specialism. Any decision on the number of detectives across the Constabulary would be taken by the Chief Constable, not by him. He had made a manifesto commitment to increase the overall establishment of Police Officers in Cheshire.
Cllr Rob Bissett:
· Asked how confident the Commissioner was that the Police would have the resources that they needed to address the wide range of issues facing them. The Commissioner repeated his comment made earlier in the meeting, that partnership working was essential and that the Police working in their own did not have the resources to address all the issues that they faced, many of which were not directly ones for the Police.