Members of the Police and Crime Panel questioned the Commissioner on a range of issues, including:
Cllr Lynn Riley
Sought clarification over a comment that the Commissioner had made in his introduction relating to his desire for Cheshire to be the best police force in the country. She asked what being the best force in the country would look like and what benefits that would bring to the public. The Commissioner responding by saying that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) would determine where the force sat in league tables. In relation to the public, he indicated that he would want to see more Police Officers patrolling the streets, something which was seen as important by a great many people.
Highlighted the importance of Community Orders in addressing crime and in the long term in preventing crime. The Commissioner informed the Panel that this approach was still used in Cheshire, but that he would provide further information to Panel members.
Cllr Peter Lloyd Jones
Recognising the increasingly complex world in which the Police operated asked the Commissioner what would be the optimum number Officers he would wish to see in Cheshire. The Commissioner responded by saying that at present the Chief Constable was content to work to the target of 2,345 Police Officers. The Commissioner did recognise that Policing was becoming ever more complex and that if the Chief Constable were at some point in the future to feel he needed additional offices, work would need to be undertaken to see if that were possible.
Asked the Commissioner on the timetable that he would work to in relation to developing proposals for the 2022/23 Police precept. He was concerned that a great many people across Cheshire were suffering the impact of sharply rising prices. The Commissioner confirmed that his letter to households would be sent on 8th November and would be the start of a consultative exercise. Feedback to the consultation exercise would be possible through a number of channels. The Commissioner commented that he too shared concerns about the rising cost of living.
Cllr Paul Findlow
Asked if the Commissioner had made a submission to Part Two of the ongoing Home Office Review, specifically those questions that related to Police and Crime Panels. The Commissioner responded, saying that he had made a submission and would share it with the Panel.
Asked a question on behalf of a fellow Cheshire East Councillor relating to the ongoing Community Governance Review, and whether the allocation of Police Community Support Officers would change if parish boundaries changed as a result of the Review. The Commissioner indicated that this was an ongoing issue, but that where possible Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) would have an association with a Parish. No changes had yet been made.
Raised concerns about the growth of out of court disposals at the national level. The Commissioner indicated that in the right circumstances such disposals had a role to play. The Commissioner offered to undertake more research on the issue and report back to Panel members.
Cllr Kenneth Critchley
Emphasised the important role played by PCSOs. The Commissioner agreed that they played a vital role and would always feature in his plans for policing in Cheshire.
Mrs Sally Hardwick
Sought clarification over how long it would take for newly appointed Police Officers to become fully effective. The Commissioner informed the Panel that this would take some time, but that the Chief Constable in addition to recruiting those with little or no prior experience was seeking to attract qualified Officers from other police forces into Cheshire.
Cllr Mick Warren
Sought the Commissioners views on the enforcement of 20 mph zones that had been introduced in many parts of Cheshire East. The Commissioner responded saying that he was supportive of such zones, but noted that if they extended over too large an area, they lost their effectiveness. He indicated that his office was working on a wider initiative in relation to speeding.
Cllr Martyn Delaney
Expressed concerns at delays with 101 calls being answered, asking the Commissioner what steps he was taking to challenge the Chief Constable over such delays. The Commissioner agreed that the system was not operating well that that this was being looked at by the Chief Constable.