In pursuit of justice
The newly elected chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners David Lloyd extolls the progress of police governance and says the case is being made to increase funding for policing and extend the influence of the organisations members.
The newly elected chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners David Lloyd extolls the progress of police governance and says the case is being made to increase funding for policing and extend the influence of the organisations members. I am fortunate to take over as chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) at a time when the organisation is in rude health and has achieved a level of maturity and effectiveness that our critics claimed we would never be able to reach. We are now beginning to punch our weight and exert influence on key issues, not just around policing but in relation to the wider criminal justice system and the rights of the victim. We have found ways to speak with a single voice on those many issues on which police and crime commissioners (PCCs) have a shared vision. We have also harnessed the energy and expertise of individual commissioners to contribute on the national stage in specific areas such as mental health and domestic abuse. I would like to pay tribute to the leadership my predecessor as chair, Dame Vera Baird QC, has shown in the past 12 months. Vera has raised the profile of the APCC considerably and aside from her championing the rights of victims perhaps a PCCs greatest responsibility we have also been able to reach consensus on an approach to improving police force funding. The organisation has conducted detailed research among PCCs, building an evidence base to support the case for better funding for our police forces. Change can only happen if we make a compelling case to HM Treasury to increase the funding for our police forces, and the APCC has worked tirelessly to provide the necessary evidence. Many of us believe we need to give more flexibility to PCCs to set precepts based on local need. PCCs are all about localism and local accountability and we need the funding to deliver the police and crime plans we have agreed. My focus locally in the past 12 months has been to try to improve the criminal justice system for all, and it is a theme I intend to use my new role to develop nationally. Elements of the criminal justice process are dysfunctional and I do not think I am being controversial in saying this. Currently, the criminal justice system has not got a single local or national end-to-end owner and incorporates a wide range of bodies. These have different functions, accountabilities and structures, organised along different geographical footprints that largely do not align with each other. They also have opposing local and national priorities. In Hertfordshire, it is not right that a victim of a very serious crime can wait as long as 18 months for their day in court. I chair the Local Criminal Justice Board, which is my opportunity, on behalf of local people, to hold senior leaders from the agencies and bodies that support and deliver criminal justice in the county to account. I do not want these boards to be toothless tigers. One of the benefits of recently taking on the chairmanship of the board is that it has allowed me to drive forward, in collaboration with board members, a focused and purposeful work plan that will help to meet the criminal justice priorities in the region. This is an approach which many PCCs are adopting around the country and which can bring great benefits. I believe further reform is needed to drive change and PCCs are well placed to lead it. I lead the criminal justice portfolio for the APCC and sit on the National Criminal Justice Board. This regular contact with senior ministers and key criminal justice partners gives me the opportunity to deliver the message that PCCs need a more formal role in overseeing local criminal justice system and powers to ensure they provide a more effective and efficient service to the public. That would provide a local leader with the ability to set the local priorities, to hold those in charge to account and to make sure organisations work together to place victims at the heart of all our decision-making. There is