Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were first introduced in 2012 and were elected for a second time on 5 May 2016 in 40 force areas across England and Wales. Every force area is represented by a PCC.
In some of the city regions the PCC responsibilities lie with the Mayor. This is not the case in South Yorkshire.
The role of the PCC is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account. They are responsible for the totality of policing in their local area.
The Electoral Commission website provides information for those wishing to stand as a candidate in the PCC elections.
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners has produced a Candidate Briefing providing guidance, advice and information for anyone interested in standing as a candidate in the 2021 Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
More information and the Candidate Briefing Pack is available here on the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners website.
The Responsibilities of the PCC
The first important point to make is that PCCs have a wider role than governing police forces. PCCs play a key role in the criminal justice and community safety landscape, and in leading ‘public health’ approaches to tackling the underlying causes of crime.
The key functions of a PCC laid down in legislation are:
- Securing the maintenance of an efficient and effective police force for (their) area
- Appointing the Chief Constable and holding him/her to account for running the Force
- Issuing a Police and Crime Plan which sets police and crime objectives for the area, based on consultation with the public, the Chief Constable and others
- Setting the Force budget and determining the council tax precept
- Commissioning the delivery of policing and crime services to meet the outcomes described in the Police and Crime Plan, including victims’ services and grant giving
- Contributing to the national ‘Strategic Policing Requirement’ and international demands, set out by the Home Secretary
- Bringing together community safety and criminal justice partners, to make sure local priorities are joined up
Role of the Chief Constable
The current Chief Constable for South Yorkshire Police is Stephen Watson.
Chief constables deliver the strategy and aims set out in the PCC’s Police and Crime Plan, and they help the PCC to plan the force’s budget and give them access to information, officers and staff whenever this is needed.
More information on working with the Chief Constable and holding them to account can be found here.
The PCC and the OPCC are involved in a range of partnerships at local, regional and national level.
PCC and Force Collaboration
PCCs and Chief Constables are obliged to make collaboration agreements and review them regularly, where it is in the interests of the efficiency and effectiveness of their own and other force areas.
South Yorkshire’s PCC and SYP are involved in a number of national and regional police force collaborations as a means of delivering efficient and effective policing services.
As part of the North East region of seven forces, SYP collaborate in a number of areas including: Cyber Crime, Regional Procurement, Collision Investigation and the Regional Organised Crime Unit.
In addition SYP collaborates with Humberside Police in having joint Information (IT) Services and Legal Services departments.
Some collaboration arrangements in the region are PCC-led, where commissioning activities are undertaken in partnership. South Yorkshire OPCC leads the commissioning of the:
- Adult Regional Sexual Assault Referral Centre
- Restorative Justice Services
The PCC and OPCC work closely with a range of partners, not least in order to achieve the outcomes set out in the PCC’s Police and Crime Plan and provide an efficient and effective criminal justice system for their area.
The PCC is not statutorily required to be involved in any specific partnership; the role of the PCC is to bring together partners, partnership arrangements and countywide activity where possible and appropriate. Therefore, the PCC’s/OPCC’s involvement in partnerships is for the most part restricted to strategic or countywide partnerships. These include:
- Youth Offending Boards
- County Safeguarding Forum
- Community Safety Partnerships
- Regional Collaborative Commissioning Arrangements
- Domestic Abuse partnerships
- Local Criminal Justice Board
- Violence Reduction Executive Board
The PCC receives the Community Safety Fund grant to fund community safety partnership activity, drugs intervention programmes and youth offending services.
In South Yorkshire, the PCC provides funding each year to enable the four Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) to meet their priorities and support the delivery of Police and Crime Plan priorities.
The OPCC also runs an annual community grants’ scheme for community organisations and groups to apply for grants up to £10,000, if they can demonstrate that activity will contribute to the priorities and outcomes in the Police and Crime Plan.
South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit
The South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) was established in 2020 to provide a public health approach to reducing serious violence.
Home Office funding of £1.6 million per year was provided last year and has been confirmed for 2021/22.
Using the Strategic Needs Assessment (known locally as our Area Profile) and Response Strategy developed in 2019/20, the VRU has coordinated activities across the county, including the delivery of interventions. In so doing, the VRU, the OPCC and partners have further strengthened links with CSPs, elected representatives and our local communities.
More information is available on the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit website.
Fire and Rescue Joint Working
Since early 2018, the PCC in South Yorkshire has been a voting member of the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority, a role in Fire governance permitted under the Policing and Crime Act 2017 (the 2017 Act).
The Home Office recently undertook a review of PCCs. Part One was published on 16 March 2021. It found strong support for the Government’s ambition to increase the accountability of Fire and Rescue services by having a directly elected official take on governance of the services in order to simplify and strengthen them across England.
In Part Two of the review – due after the PCC elections – the Home Office has stated it will consult publicly on whether to mandate the transfer of Fire and Rescue Authority functions to PCCs in England. This will form part of a Fire Reform White Paper, to launch later this year.
South Yorkshire’s Criminal Justice Board (SYCJB) is chaired by the PCC and supported by the OPCC in terms of its strategic management, performance and evaluation and scrutiny activity, finance and business support.
It exists to improve communication, co-operation and collaboration amongst criminal justice partner agencies, and to commit and direct their resources towards the delivery of criminal justice.
Partners include; the Crown Prosecution Service, probation services, the courts, Legal Aid Agency, prisons, victim and witness support services, Youth Offending Teams and Health.
A selection of briefings are available on the Home Office website to provide candidates with the information to help them understand partnership structures, and how they will need to work in partnership with other local leaders in community safety and criminal justice.
These briefings can be found here.
The Home Office website has a range of resources about PCCs, including information for newly elected PCCs and PCC candidates on nominations, voting and Police and Crime Panels. These have not yet been updated by the Home Office for the current election.