Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Additional Memorandum submitted by APACE (PR 107)

The Association of Police Authority Chief Executives is the professional body representing chief executives and other senior staff within police authorities. We welcome the opportunity for this additional contribution to the Committee’s considerations. These comments are made in particular with reference to the provisions of Schedule 14.

Whilst the Bill provides the framework for transition we accept that much of the detail for revised arrangements will be set out in secondary legislation. Our experience is that equal attention will need to be paid to these provisions. The timetable for implementation of the revised arrangements is a significant challenge and one that calls for early drafting of such instruments. This becomes of increasing significance as the transitional period is of such brevity that there will not be an opportunity to correct or amend provisions made in such secondary legislation.

Transfer Arrangements

We should state at the outset that we have reservations about the efficacy of the transfer arrangements taking place without an effective transition period. It appears clear that the policy intent is to allow the new governance body to exercise their statutory functions in a way that they feel best meets the local requirement. To be effective, the new arrangements will need to provide commissioners with the resources they need to discharge the functions and duties imposed upon them and deliver the significant organisational and cultural change required. The likelihood of this being achieved is substantially diminished if key decisions about resources have been irrevocably taken before their election. This will be the case if the transfer orders required under the Bill are made and fully implemented prior to the commissioner's election into office.

Property, Rights, and Liabilities etc.

We suggest that Schedule 14, Paragraph 9 (1)(b) provides for the transfer of all resources and power into the hands of the chief constable with a consequent reducing or weakening of the powers of the commissioner, leaving commissioners ineffective and with very few mechanisms with which to fulfil their statutory duty.

We would also suggest that Schedule 14 paragraph (9) (2)(b) would be clearer with some additional wording included to read "property, rights and liabilities be apportioned to the new policing body."

Authorities clearly support the right of chief constables to have direction and control of operations but would advise against extending their powers further.

Politically Restricted Posts.

We believe that it is essential to include this within the transitional provisions. The very spirit of the Government’s proposal is to create a powerful figure head and it is likely that the majority of candidates will represent a political party in order to have the financial ability to run an election campaign, so it is likely that their manifesto will have political undertones. When elected this could result in staff being placed under a great deal of pressure. Therefore it would be sensible to ensure that the restrictions are akin to those imposed upon civil servants.

Whilst we accept that this is vital for officers, we have reservations that the current provision for politically restricted posts apparently precludes the involvement of democratically elected members to support the commissioner as may locally seem appropriate.

The issue is that a commissioner might wish to involve such persons but the current drafting of the Bill does not provide for any allowance to be paid to such people.  The Bill only allows employment and such employment can only be on a politically restricted basis.  Therefore, it would not be possible to employ local councillors.  However the Bill does not provide for the commissioner to pay allowances to such a person.  This creates an anomaly with those local councillors who might be selected to sit on a Police and Crime Panel where their respective authorities or the Panel itself, once established as a Joint Committee, would be able to pay allowances.  This potentially detracts from the commissioner being able to build strong and effective partnership links with local authorities.

Staff

In respect of transfer orders the expectation is that the transfer of staff would not see any worsening of terms and conditions for those that are transferred - as would be the case under TUPE.  The current drafting only requires 'may'. We note that the TUPE regulations almost certainly apply but could be expressly applied for the avoidance of doubt.

A number of staff within the definition of persons employed by the existing police authority under section 15 of the Police Act 1996 may be employed under outsourced agreements of various kinds. The committee is asked to consider whether these staff would be covered under the provisions of Paragraph 5 as it is currently worded.

It might also be worth noting that, as every member of police staff will have to transfer within this scheme, and as some may already have transferred under collaborative arrangements already by then, the least bureaucratic option with the fewest numbers of transfers has got to be preferable - if only for morale and reputational risk.

If the Bill creates the offices of Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer for the commissioner, we suggest reconsideration of paragraph 1 to ensure that chief executives and treasurers remain in post using the same mechanism to ensure continuity. We believe that equivalent provisions to those included in paragraphs 1 and 2 of schedule 14 should be included in respect of the role of the chief executive.

We trust that these additional comments are helpful. We do feel that additional clarity would be helpful on transitional arrangements, which are not fully provided within the Bill as currently drafted.

 

February 2011