A pool of experts set up by the Local Government Association (LGA) will help local authorities establish police and crime panels (PCPs) ahead of elected police commissioners taking office this year.
The taskforce will be the latest offer of free support to help councils adapt to major changes in their responsibilities on crime and community safety.
Councils have until 2 July to establish police and crime panels. These will be responsible for scrutinising the incoming commissioner and will have the right of veto over the commissioners' budget.
Over the past few months, the LGA has been issuing guidance and helping councils share expertise on some of the more difficult aspects of setting up panels. This has included establishing which of the local authorities in the force area should ‘host' the panels. Achieving political and geographical balance among panel members, particularly in large force areas with several local authorities, will also be involved.
The LGA's 12-strong taskforce of scrutiny, democratic services and community safety experts are now on call to help local authorities set up the effective scrutiny panels, which will hold new police commissioners to account. This could be virtual – through desktop support – or in person, working directly with fellow practitioners.
Councils have until 2 July to establish the host authority and geographical make-up of their PCPs – which can be made up of between 10 and 18 councillors as well as two independent members.
After that councils in police authority areas will be working to ensure panels are in a position to be up and running by the time police commissioners take office in November. The panel will be operating over the next 12 months to help councils establish, then effectively run, these new committees.
The LGA will be helping authorities share expertise and advice on issues including:
"When these 41 elected police commissioners take office in November, councils will have a vital role to play in holding them to account.
"Councillors will be speaking for their residents and making sure police action is aligned with the concerns of the neighbourhoods they serve. These boards will have the power to veto major decisions – like the setting of budgets – where they are not in the best interests of police officers or the wider community.
"We know that that the public will expect new police chiefs to work alongside councils – police and crime panels will be a vital link between the two.
"Local authorities are already making great progress at working together to get the initial preparations in place for these new panels. Over the coming months, the LGA will be supporting them to ensure they can ‘hit the ground running' come the election of police commissioners this November."
Cllr Mehboob Khan, Chairman of the LGA Safer and Stronger Communities Board
We would be interested to hear about your experiences and share those experiences among other local authorities through our online knowledge-sharing website, the Knowledge Hub (KHub). You can subscribe by signing up to website and joining the 'Police and Crime Panel Group' on KHub below:
Any local authority interested in enlisting the help of the peer panel can contact us:
Telephone: 020 7664 3086
16 November 2012