I wish to set out to the House details of a review into the role of police and crime commissioners.
The Government’s manifesto committed to strengthening the accountability of PCCs and expanding their role. Police and crime commissioners were introduced in 2012 to give the public a direct say over policing in their area. Since coming into post, they have brought real local accountability to policing and are working to give local communities a stronger voice.
After eight years, it is right that we step back and consider how we can continue to evolve the PCC model. It is important that PCCs are strong, visible leaders in the fight against crime and have the legitimacy and tools to hold their police forces to account effectively.
To deliver this commitment, I am today announcing a two-part internal review into the role of PCCs.
Part 1 will commence in late July and report to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and myself by October 2020. It will be focused on changes required to strengthen the model, which, where possible, can be delivered ahead of the 2021 PCC elections. In particular, it will consider how to strengthen the accountability, resilience, legitimacy and scrutiny mechanisms of the existing model to drive up standards; identify and share best practice across the sector; and examine the effectiveness of the relationship between PCCs and chief constables and the checks and balances currently in place.
We will also use part 1 of the review to help us map out our longer-term ambition for the expansion of the PCC role. In relation to fire, the Government are clear that further reform of fire and rescue services is required in order to respond to the recommendations from phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower inquiry and to build on the findings from Sir Tom Winsor’s state of fire and rescue report, both of which demonstrate the clear challenges and improvements required in professionalism, people and governance. The review will consider further options and opportunities to strengthen fire governance and accountability, drawing on the lessons from the first cycle of fire governance transfers to PCCs.
The review will also be fully aligned with the Government’s commitment to expand the benefits of devolution across England through the local recovery and devolution White Paper. Mayors of combined authorities should be powerful local figures with the ability to drive public safety, as well as economic growth and local recovery. We plan to develop the role of PCCs with that longer-term trajectory in mind, building on the models in London and Greater Manchester.
I would like to be clear that neither part 1 nor part 2 of the review will consider a wholly new governance model for policing or examine the 43 police force model.
An advisory group will support part 1 of the review, comprising senior external stakeholders with expertise in the policing and fire sectors. It will also be important that the public’s views on those who represent them in policing are heard and the review team will seek to engage a sample of citizens and local and national victims’ groups as appropriate.
Part 2 of the review will commence after the 2021 elections and will allow us to consider further ways to strengthen and expand the role of PCCs, including the role PCCs play in tackling reoffending to help reduce crime. It will focus on longer-term reforms and the potential for wider efficiencies to be made within the system with a view to implementation ahead of the 2024 elections.
I will place a copy of the terms of reference for part 1 of the review in the Libraries of both Houses.