APCC chair: Is Manchester ‘one person’ model way forward for criminal justice system?
Manchester’s mayoral model could be the blueprint for “local accountability” in ensuring the criminal justice system is brought to account, MPs have been told.
Police and crime commissioners (PCCs) have taken their fight to “hold a ring” round the CJS to the heart of central government.
Members of UK Parliament’s Justice Committee heard that parts of criminal justice services are “not working as originally envisaged” with recent reforms leading to a two-stream probation system that impedes partnership work and innovation.
And pointing the way forward, Association of PCCs’ criminal justice portfolio lead David Lloyd championed the “interesting” Manchester prototype as a future direction for the CJS.
Mr Lloyd gave evidence to the committee on Tuesday (February 27), calling for PCCs to take over the joint overseeing of Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and the National Probation Service (NPS) with the Ministry of Justice.
He told its Transforming Rehabilitation session – chaired by MP Robert Neill – that Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham’s “devolved responsibility for most of criminal justice” should be a template to be viewed more closely.
“I think if you want a whole system you have got to have one person setting the plan for a whole system – not parts of it. Otherwise you find perverse outcomes,” he said.
“It is my firm belief that PCCs should have the same powers over the criminal justice system that they currently have over their police force – set the plan, the budget, appoint a chief and hold to account.”
Mr Lloyd, who has made it his ambition during his time as organisation chair to bring “swifter high-quality justice and improve the experience for all involved”, said the CJPS could also take a leaf of the fire service.
He noted that it didn’t seek “more trucks” but instead sought to find out how to “reduce the fire in the first place”.
Mr Lloyd added: “That is exactly the same principle that should be applied to the criminal justice system.
“At the moment no one is holding the ring round the CJS.
The APCC wants to see funding to be provided to PCCs without ring fence, so that the money can be invested in the part of the system which would have the greatest impact on reducing reoffending in their local area. “
Questioned by committee members on the move towards local accountability, the Hertfordshire commissioner said the “value of PCCs” is in a local leadership role with the “real work” being achieved “in our own constabulary areas”.
He added: “Bluntly, if offender management is not working in Hertfordshire – then I should carry the can and the electorate can get rid of me.”
Mr Lloyd enlightened MPs about talks he had held with the union UNISON, which he said is “very much in favour” of the probation service and prisons coming under PCCs’ responsibility.
“I recognise that democratic accountability whether it comes from the left, right or somewhere else,” he added.
“PCCs have a key role in working with partners to ensure an efficient and effective criminal justice system.
“That means real oversight and accountability of local criminal justice services, including offender management services.
The PCCs are concerned that across England and Wales the criminal justice agencies are being pulled in different directions.