[MAC0017]

 

Written evidence submitted by the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (MAC0017)

 

Summary

  1. The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) welcomes the Home Affairs’ Committee new call for evidence as part of its Inquiry into The Macpherson Report: 21 years on, focusing on policing and race, following concerns raised about the policing of the coronavirus lockdown and reported disproportionality in fines and investigations.  

 

  1. Further to the evidence which the APCC has previous provided to the Committee – both written and oral - in this submission, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners seeks to provide further information to the Committee with regard to the following:

 

  1. The APCC Leads on Equality, Diversity and Human Rights (EDHR) David Munro, PCC for Surrey, and Hardyal Dhindsa, the PCC for Derbyshire, would welcome the opportunity to provide further oral evidence to the Committee on the issues covered in this submission.

 

Background

 

  1. The purpose of this submission is to outline to the Committee the issues relating to changes in police powers and the steps we have taken to minimise the impact that that these changes may have, particularly on BAME communities. This submission focuses on issues relevant to the work of:

 

  1. The APCC is the national membership body for PCCs and other police governance bodies in England and Wales. It offers the following services to members:

 

  1. Under the terms of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, PCCs must:

 

  1. Additionally, under this Act, PCCs are required to hold the Chief Constable (CC) in their area to account for the exercise of their duties relating to equality and diversity. As public servants, PCCs are also required under the Public Sector Equality Duty to drive forward the aims of the Equality Act, including when considering the services that they commission locally.

 

Changes in Police Powers

 

  1. The APCC recognises the importance of the police having the powers they need to tackle serious violence and keep communities safe. Equally, as elected representatives PCCs are committed to acting as a bridge between the public and the police, through engaging with the communities that they represent and ensuring that the police service meets their needs.

 

  1. The Committee’s call for evidence rightly states that the killing of George Floyd has shone a spotlight on racism and injustice across the world. Mr Munro and Mr Dhindsa stated publicly how appalled they were by the footage showing Mr Floyd’s death, and reiterated their commitment to working alongside both communities and Chief Constables (CCs) to ensure that the important commitments within the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Strategy on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion are delivered[1].

 

  1. Mr Munro and Mr Dhindsa and the APCC secretariat are currently considering how the work of the EDHR Portfolio can be reinvigorated going forward, to drive further progress on tackling race disparity in policing and criminal justice. A meeting is scheduled for early July 2020 bringing together relevant APCC Leads - including on Workforce, Criminal Justice and Transparency and Integrity – to discuss a programme of work in this area.

 

  1. Additionally, the APCC hopes that people with concerns about disparity in policing and criminal justice will view the May 2021 PCC and local government elections as an opportunity to have their voices heard in terms of how their areas is policed, as PCCs set the strategy for policing locally through their Police and Crime Plans.

 

  1. The APCC welcomes the announcement made by the NPCC with regard to the plan of action looking at issues of diversity, inclusion, and concerns about racial inequalities in policing and criminal justice. We wish to play a full part in that work going forward[2].

 

Stop and Search

 

  1. Mr Munro welcomed the relaxation of restrictions contained in the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme for the use of Stop and Search under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 - extended to all police forces in August 2019 – as this relaxation will allow the police to use the power more swiftly when it is in the public interest to do so[3].

 

  1. Mr Munro acknowledged that BAME people are disproportionately subject to Stop and Search compared to white people, and underlined that forces are still required to record data around stop and search and monitor it’s fair and proper use.

 

  1. Mr Munro has underlined that whilst this one element of the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme is being relaxed, it is “vital that forces across England and Wales remain faithful to the Scheme’s guiding principles of transparency, accountability and community involvement”[4], including accurate data recording and ensuring that lay observation policies are in place.

 

  1. Mr Munro, Mr Dhindsa and the APCC secretariat will carefully scrutinise the Home Office police bulletin on police powers and procedures when it is published in October 2020. This will include statistics on Stop and Search from April 2019 until March 2020, therefore reflecting if changes in the use of section 60 Stop and Searches has impacted on disproportionality.

 

  1. On a national level Mr Munro and Mr Dhindsa continue to work alongside independent and third sector organisations representing groups with characteristics protected by the Equality Act, as well as policing bodies, to ensure that where possible we can eliminate disparity, in line with the commitments contained in the NPCC DEI Strategy. The APCC has provided opportunities for PCCs to hear perspectives from such organisations, including the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Stopwatch.

 

  1. The APCC recognises that whilst Stop and Search is an important tool in terms of keeping our communities safe, taken in isolation it is not the solution to knife crime and violence, and that the most effective way we can tackle these crime types is through early intervention and prevention[5].

 

  1. Across England and Wales, PCCs have driven forward numerous prevention-based initiatives to tackle serious violence, including work with football clubs in Merseyside to provide diversionary activities to young people at risk, and initiatives in Suffolk to help young offenders better manage their responses to conflict. More information on these and other initiatives is available in the APCC ‘PCCs Making a Difference: Serious Violence in Focus’ document [6].

 

  1. More broadly, PCCs have commissioned other support services to enable early intervention and break the cycle of crime. For instance, a range of work addressing adverse childhood experiences and the increased likelihood of criminal activity from individuals with ACEs has been conducted in Wales to transform the way in which police and partner agencies deal with the most vulnerable people in society. This programme was the result of a collaborative bid between the four PCCs, four Chief Constables, Public Health Wales and a range criminal justice and voluntary sector partners across Wales.

 

Coronavirus Regulations

 

  1. With regard to the Coronavirus Regulations, it is the view of the APCC that given the speed at which forces have been expected to take on these complex new powers, the police have done an excellent job in helping protect the public from the spread of the virus.

 

  1. With regard to the implementation of the Coronavirus Regulations, the APCC Chair Katy Bourne OBE stated publicly that these would need to be used proportionately, and only when necessary[7]. Ms Bourne made clear that PCCs will continue to support Chief Constables during this time, but also hold them to account in terms of how the powers are used[8].

 

  1. The APCC has regularly shared briefings with PCCs on EDHR concerns arising from the coronavirus regulations, signposting links to relevant resources. This has included:

 

  1. The NPCC has shared data on the issuance of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) under the Coronavirus Regulations with the APCC, which we have shared with PCCs for them to discuss with forces locally. This data has included information on the ethnicity of individuals issued FPNs.

 

  1. We understand that in some force areas, community scrutiny panels have adapted to consider how forces have issued FPNs, whilst in Dorset for example the OPCC has examined a randomly selected sample of cases where FPNs were issued[9].

 

  1. Cleveland OPCC has commissioned Teesside University to undertake an independent research project, exploring community perceptions regarding the local force’s implementation of the Coronavirus Regulations, and how communities would like the force and the OPCC to engage with them during the period of social distancing. The research team are using a range of data sources, including enforcement data covering gender, ethnicity, and Local Authority area. The final report is expected in August 2020.

 

  1. In May 2020, the APCC received a letter from Stopwatch, expressing a number of concerns including the potential for disproportionality in the enforcement of the Regulations. In their response, Mr Munro and Mr Dhindsa offered to share any information or guidance available online from Stopwatch with PCCs via the briefings mentioned above at paragraph 23.

 

 

June 2020

 

 


[1] https://www.apccs.police.uk/latest-news/the-death-of-george-floyd-in-the-usa/

[2] https://news.npcc.police.uk/releases/police-determined-to-tackle-inequalities-and-injustices

[3] https://www.apccs.police.uk/latest-news/apcc-response-to-government-stop-and-search-announcement/

[4] https://www.apccs.police.uk/latest-news/apcc-response-to-government-announcement-on-stop-and-search/

[5] https://www.apccs.police.uk/latest-news/apcc-response-to-serious-violence-funding-allocation-announcement/

[6] https://www.apccs.police.uk/media/1434/pccs-making-a-difference-serious-violence-in-focus-final.pdf

[7] https://www.apccs.police.uk/latest-news/coronavirus-bill-apcc-response/

[8] https://www.apccs.police.uk/latest-news/engagement-key-to-maintaining-public-confidence-in-policing/

[9] https://www.dorset.pcc.police.uk/news-and-blog/dorset-pcc-news-blog/2020/06/covid-has-made-job-of-scrutinising-the-police-more-important/