Police authorities / elected police commissioners
Police authorities are independent bodies with responsibility for monitoring and overseeing local policing. They will be abolished in November 2012.
Each local police force has an associated police authority. There are 44 police authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while Scotland has six joint police boards and two police authorities. Police authorities usually have 17 members, of which three are magistrates, nine are local councillors and five are independent members. The Association of Police Authorities (APA) is the membership organisation that represents police authorities giving them a united voice to speak out on issues affecting policing. The APA has won a government contract to run the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), which will be a representative membership body of the new PCCs, once they are elected.
In November 2012 the arrangements for policing in England and Wales will change. The duties of the police authorities to direct local policing priorities will pass to an elected Police and Crime Commissioner. Elected police commissioners will have power to set strategic policy for local policing, and can hire and fire the local chief constable.
They will be able to have a small secretariat of staff to carry out their functions.
The commissioner will be expected, notwithstanding the fact that they will be directly elected, to liaise closely with other local agencies, and to develop the police and crime plan in a consensual manner (this is a legal requirement under section 10 of the Act).
Scrutinising the commissioner will be the Police and Crime Panel. This is a body most of whose members must be local councillors (at least ten). At least two members must be co-optees, meaning that each PCP will be a minimum of 12 people in size. The largest PCP will have twenty members. Further details on the role and composition of the PCP can be found in this guidance, jointly produced by the CfPS and the LGA.
The detailed powers of the PCP are set out in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. They include powers of veto over certain of the commissioner's responsibility. The PCP will be expected to support the commissioner in his or her work.
Community safety partnerships
The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 established Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) in recognition of the fact that local partners need to work together to protect the public from crime. In 2006, the Police and Justice Act established a new framework for holding CDRPs to account through the establishment of crime and disorder scrutiny committees in local authorities. Regulations and guidance were published in 2009. The guidance was co-authored by CfPS and the Local Government Information Unit on behalf of the Home Office, in consultation with local scrutiny practitioners.
In 2011 the Home Office consulted informally to discern whether changes in the regulations were required. No changes were in the end proposed, and the legal position regarding scrutiny of community safety partnerships - including the regulations and guidance - remains.