Police & Crime Plan – PCP comments

To see all my articles on the Police and Crime Commissioner click here.

If you followed my coverage of the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections back in November, and my comments on Commissioner Stansfeld’s draft Police & Crime Plan, then you might like to take a quick glance at the Police & Crime Panel’s comments on the same document. The PCP is a non-elected body made up mainly of local councillors from across the Thames Valley region whose job is to hold the PCC to account.

They have published their comments which you can read here. They don’t find much to praise in the draft Plan – nothing at all, in fact – and they have plenty of suggestions as to how it might be improved. There are some interesting comparisons with the plans of other PCCs where the Panel has picked out examples of good practice.

Although the Panel stops short of expressing outright disappointment or criticism their considered view makes depressing reading. It’s not too late for Commissioner Stansfeld to make changes in the light of all the comments he has received – let’s hope he has the courage to do so.

Draft Police and Crime Plan for Thames Valley

To see all my PCC articles (mostly about the election last November), click here.

The newly-elected Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley @TV_PCC has produced a draft of the Police and Crime Plan he is required to publish setting out his objectives and priorities for the next 4 years. He has invited comments on the draft. Consultation closes on 8 February, with the final Plan due to be published by the end of March. You can read about it here and download the full draft Plan here.

Having covered the PCC election I thought I should look at the draft Plan. It’s a dull document which won’t appeal to the general public with whom the PCC is supposed to communicate. Much of it deals with matters I’m not qualified to coment on, but one matter is topical and a couple of others relate to general problems of organisation and collaboration and to target-setting, and I focus on these.

It would make commenting easier if the pages and paragraphs were numbered.

1. Criminal abuse of vulnerable people is in the news with the trial taking place at the Old Bailey of nine Oxford men accused of child prostitution, rape and trafficking. In his foreword PCC Stansfeld says such crimes

can only be tackled effectively if Social Services and the public bring the abuse to the attention of the Police.


Usually, by the time it has become apparent to the Police it has already caused considerable distress and major crimes have been committed.

It would be good to see the PCC acknowledge that time and again police have dismissed or ignored people – often young and vulnerable – who have come to them with complaints, and include in his Plan the intention to make sure the Thames Valley force is approachable and supportive towards victims of such crimes.

Comment: The Plan should acknowledge that the Police have been part of the problem of exploitation of vulnerable people as well as an essential part of the solution. It should commit Thames Valley Police to excellence in the way they handle reports and complaints in this field.

2. The draft Plan (Section 3, page 11) lists a bewildering set of agencies as statutory partners.

The PCC and Thames Valley Police will work closely with their statutory partners in the community safety and criminal justice service sectors to meet the policing and crime reduction needs of our communities.

It continues

The main statutory partnerships in the Thames Valley Police area comprise:

  • 17 Community Safety Partnerships;
  • 1 Local Criminal Justice Board;
  • 1 Probation Trust;
  • 9 Local Safeguarding Children Boards, and
  • 7 Local Safeguarding Adults Boards.

The views of these partners, as well as the ‘Responsible Authorities’ in Thames Valley (18 local authorities; 3 Fire and Rescue Authorities; 3 NHS clusters and 5 probation service local delivery units), have been reflected in the development of the draft strategic police and crime objectives set out in this Plan.

It would be a challenge for anyone to “work closely” and effectively with so many “partners”, but unless the PCC can do this there will still be too many failures of the system and too many reports lamenting the lack of communication between agencies. The draft Plan puts forward no ideas (innovative or otherwise) for how the PCC intends to accomplish this difficult task.

Comment: The Plan should explain how the PCC is going to work effectively with and co-ordinate all the statutory partners and other agencies. Does he have anything to offer other than endless meetings, working groups and task forces?

3. In Annex A the PCC breaks down his six Strategic Objectives into a number of Key Themes, each with one or more Actions & Targets. Very few of the Actions & Targets have measurable outputs, and where they do they are incomplete for the purpose of monitoring achievement. For example

  • Cut the level of violence against the person by 2% compared to 2012/13 levels. Q: What are the 2012/13 levels? Where can we find them published?
  • Achieve a ‘percentage of crimes solved’ detection rate for violence with injury of 45%. Q: Is this better or worse than the current figure? By how much?
  • Achieve a ‘percentage of crimes solved’ sanction detection rate for domestic burglary of 18%. Q: What is a ‘sanction detection rate’? How does it differ from the ‘detection rate’ above, and why?

Some of the Actions & Targets are input targets – resources to be used rather than results achieved …

  • Carry out at least 50 operations against metal theft.
  • Further use of predictive mapping of crime hotspots …

.. and some are just waffle

  • Work with partners to reduce persistent and resistant anti-social behaviour problems affecting our neighbourhoods and communities.
  • With partners, tackle business crime through intelligence, enforcement and prevention.

The highlight is because the Actions & Targets contain a lot of ‘tackling’. One in four of the A&T’s in the Annex (not every Key Theme actually has an action/target) uses this meaningless formula which could just as honestly say “spend some time and money on ….”. As a target almost impossible not to achieve!

Comment: Targets should be quantified wherever possible with the base-line stated explicitly. Where quantification is not possible, they should state how achievement is to be judged. Targets which are merely input statements should be dropped.

I shall submit these comments to the PCC as part of the consultation process on the Draft Plan.

For an interesting and much more detailed analysis of how a “victim-centric” system of performance targets might work see @CllrJonSHarvey‘s blog.