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National Briefing Day for PCC candidates

March 20, 2016 9:23 AM

Lib Dem PCC candidates - Jackie Howe (Norfolk), Helen Korfanty (Suffolk)
An independent organisation called CoPaCC (Comparing Police and Crime Commissioners) was set up shortly after the first Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) appointments to monitor police governance, in particular the work of the PCCs and their offices. A few days ago, they ran a National Briefing Day, unaffiliated to party politics, and free of charge to all PCC candidates standing for May's election in England and Wales.

In Suffolk, six PCC candidates are standing for election, but despite the importance to the public of having candidates who are up-to-date with the challenges facing PCCs and with what is considered to be "best practice" in the job, only two attended the training day. One of these was our Liberal Democrat candidate for Suffolk PCC, Helen Korfanty (pictured to the right of Jackie Howe, Liberal Democrat candidate for Norfolk PCC), who described the briefing as "invaluable". Through her previous work, Helen Korfanty already has excellent knowledge of (and experience in) the criminal justice system and its interaction with policing, but she feels that "it is important to receive the advice of experts so that I can be the best candidate possible for this challenging post".

The training was delivered through panel sessions featuring representatives from a wide range of agencies and organisations. It covered many aspects of the connections between police and the public, and of the complex relationship between policing, crime and the effects of offending. The key messages delivered in the training session were described in the agenda as follows:

  • PCCs must deliver an efficient and effective police force. To do so they must engage closely and understand concerns of officers, the public and victims.
  • Success as a PCC is dependent on the strength of working relationships and an understanding of the legal framework in which the role operates.
  • Reducing budgets and a desire to protect frontline resources will place added pressure on savings from collaboration, partnering and procurement.
  • As policing demand shifts, real improvement must be made to challenge the revolving door of crime and offending and the support of victims.

Helen Korfanty was particularly impressed by the comments of Gavin Thomas (President Elect of the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales), who noted that the success of a PCC depends not on their political affiliation, but on their ability to build a constructive relationship with the Chief Constable in which both are willing to reach compromises. He gave useful advice on what to look for when appointing a Chief Constable, and on how to encourage more candidates to apply, given that the number of applicants for the post of Chief Constable has declined since the role of PCC has been introduced. (Indeed, on the past two occasions when Suffolk Constabulary advertised for a Chief Constable, only one applicant came forward each time.)