Supplementary written evidence submitted by David Munro, Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, Lead on Equality, Diversity and Human Rights, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners. (APC0001)
The Committee would welcome any supplementary written evidence that you may wish to submit on the issues discussed in the evidence session. Additionally, the Committee would welcome information on the following points:
The APCC will continue to work alongside the NPCC to highlight the NPCC Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Strategy, and how this can be used as a tool by PCCs locally to drive forward progress on increasing the representation in the police workforce of currently underrepresented groups. The APCC will continue to provide training and guidance for PCCs on how they can fulfil their duties under the Equality Act, and continue to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst its members with regard to furthering the aims of the Macpherson Report.
A number of PCCs do collect and publish information on this locally. For example, Derbyshire police collects and publishes data displaying levels of community confidence, enabling comparison between levels of confidence experienced by White and Black & Minority Ethnic groups (more info – pages 38-41).
The APCC will continue to share best practice on the measures that PCCs can take to monitor and publish information regarding levels of public confidence amongst all communities, and will ensure that these issues are highlighted in the guidance we produce for PCCs ahead of the upcoming PCC election (now postponed).
In 2018/19, the APCC facilitated the Criminal Justice Alliance undertaking research with regard to the provision of Community Scrutiny Panels. The subsequent Stop and Scrutinise report (more info), published in March 2019, stated the following with regard to the provision of community scrutiny across England and Wales (pages 6-7):
“The need to make stop and search subject to community scrutiny is recognised in the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme (BUSSS), the Code of Practice for stop and search, and the College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice (APP) on stop and search.
“The aim of BUSSS, launched in 2014 by the Home Office and the College of Policing, is to achieve greater transparency and community involvement in the use of stop and search and increase public confidence that it is used fairly, lawfully and effectively. All 43 police forces in England and Wales, and the British Transport Police, are voluntarily signed up to the scheme.
“BUSSS assumes that ‘local community scrutiny groups’ will play a role in its operation, particularly in the complaints trigger process. The Code of Practice also requires a degree of community scrutiny […] However, the APP leaves it to individual areas to determine how this scrutiny should operate in practice.
“A broad range of groups operate across England and Wales that would fall under the category of ‘community scrutiny panels’ (CSPs) from Community Monitoring Groups in London to Public Encounter Groups in Cheshire and the Reasonable Grounds Panel in Northamptonshire. The number of panel members, the range of activities they carry out, the regularity of their meetings and the transparency of their work also differs significantly across police force areas.”
When I spoke about needing a better framework etc I was comparing what we have now with the past: I believe that, with the improvements brought about by the BUSSS framework and in particular the strenuous and broadly successful efforts that forces have made to tighten up on their stop and search operations, the structure is now in place – and the political leadership that has been instrumental in driving this change should be applauded. What is most needed now is for forces to be given the headroom actually to implement the improvements that are recommended.
- The number of stops has fallen dramatically so that, even though disproportionality has risen slightly, the absolute amount of stops experienced by all community groups has fallen.
- All forces now adhere to the BUSSS scheme.
- Most forces now have properly functioning Independent Advisory Groups (IAGs) which can effectively hold their forces to account for operating stop and search properly. I accept that IAGs generally have further to go, but good foundations have been laid.
- Stops are now properly targeted and monitored, with effective oversight by senior officers. Indeed, it’s the belief of many, including myself, that the police withdrew too much from using this essential tool in the armoury, especially in the use of s.60 area stops. But I think the balance is now broadly right.
- HMICFRS focusses on this issue far more thoroughly, and this must continue.
There is universal agreement across the spectrum (yes, even Stopwatch) that much progress has been made. There are however still strong views as to whether matters can and should be improved further. Police should continue to listen to those opinions so that we can collectively make things even better. For instance, the use of ‘ridealongs’ where observers, including young people, can actually observe individual officers undertaking stops, is a great idea in principle but not taken up as much as it should be. While accepting that this can be hard to organise in practice, more effort should be made.
We must not relax the drive to find more members of IAGs, especially those of course from communities particularly affected by stop and search. While some work very well, and have gained the respect of those who they serve, others have further to go.
• Can you keep the Committee updated about any work that you undertake in response to its question about police forces’ monitoring of the receipt of notice that should be given to an individual when they are stopped and searched? [Q18]
The APCC will raise this issue with the NPCC Lead on Stop and Search, DCC Adrian Hanstock, and will inform the Committee of any developments. I would encourage you to additionally contact the NPCC if you seek to find out any further information on this topic.
The PCC Response Portal is a new online portal to help PCCs fulfil their statutory requirement to respond to all reports published by HMICFRS within 56 days of publication (Section 55 of Police Act 1996). The PCC Response Portal was launched to PCCs in February 2020, after the publication of IPA tranche 3 inspection reports.
The PCC Response Portal has been built to give PCCs an online view of all reports and recommendations that they are required to respond to. They will also have the ability to submit their responses to HMICFRS and Home Office digitally through this portal, as well as the option to generate a link to their published response on the HMICFRS website. The portal has received good engagement from OPCCs so far since the launch.
HMICFRS analysts are now working with Home Office colleagues to help streamline reporting of PCC responses. If you require more information on this, we would encourage you to contact HMICFRS or the Home Office directly.