30th Jun, 2022

Have your say on police and crime commissioner role being transferred to West Midlands mayor

Felix Nobes 20th Nov, 2018

THE role of the region’s police and crime commissioner could be transferred to the West Midlands mayor – and the public is being asked to have its say.

Residents and organisations can give their views during an eight-week public consultation being held by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

The consultation is part of the region’s latest devolution deal with the government.

The plans are dividing opinion, with the PCC role currently held by Labour’s David Jamieson, while the region’s first mayor is Conservative Andy Street. He chairs the WMCA and also has significant separate powers to it – over economic development, skills and transport. The PCC’s role is to hold West Midlands Police to account on the public’s behalf.

Both positions – created in recent years under the government’s devolution agenda – are directly elected roles, whereby voters have the power to vote incumbents out if they are not happy.

The WMCA’s full constituent members are seven West MIdlands councils including Coventry and Solihull, which are predominantly Labour held.

Proponents argue transferring the role would also provide greater efficiency by making the mayor the single accountable figure in the West Midlands.

Dr Henry Kippin, WMCA director of public service reform, says the proposed transfer could mean the region’s emergency and public services could work together in a more co-ordinated way.

He said: “Devolution has seen significant powers and funding moved from Whitehall to the West Midlands over the last couple of years, driving an £8billion investment package that can help secure a more prosperous future for all our communities.

“We believe there are a number of potential benefits for policing and crime reduction and it’s important the public have their say.”

But Mr Jamieson said: “I’m deeply concerned that this plan, while harmless on the surface, could lead to financial chaos for West Midlands Police.

“I’m worried that funds intended for the police may end up being spent on mayoral projects and that could lead to officer numbers falling even further.

“I also fear that the merger may cost more than current arrangements, as the mayor’s salary will have to be inflated and the un-elected deputy mayor for policing will be paid a large salary too.

“The leadership of our force is a full time job that requires a laser-like focus. I’m worried that a mayor with many other responsibilities won’t pay proper attention to the police and an un-elected deputy mayor won’t have the clout to challenge the police. With the cuts we’ve faced that’s a profound concern.”

The consultation will ask for views on the principle of transferring the PCC role to whoever wins the mayoral election in May 2020.

A second consultation will start in January next year.

If there is no transfer then voters will face two ballots – one to elect a mayor and one to choose a PCC.

People can find out more information about the proposals and give their views by taking part in the survey at www.wmca.org.uk/policeconsultation

The consultation closes on Friday, January 11 next year.

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