Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Memorandum submitted by Local Government Ombudsmen (PR 132)

Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

We write as the Local Government Ombudsmen, in response to proposals contained in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill.

The Bill proposes the introduction of directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners and the abolition of Police Authorities.

The Ombudsmen have jurisdiction to deal with complaints about maladministration and service failure by Police Authorities. We receive relatively few complaints in relation to Police Authorities. However, we feel it is important that the new police governance and accountability structures contained in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill do not inadvertently leave no recourse of complaint to an independent body.

We note, and agree with, the provisions in the Bill for 'serious complaints and conduct matters' to be investigated by the IPCC or a police force where these relate to corruption and criminal activity. However, where ‘conduct’ constitutes maladministration such as delay, bias and neglect in matters not connected with the investigation or prevention of crime (such as procurement, disposal of assets, making planning applications), such complaints should be in the jurisdiction of the Ombudsmen in relation to both the Police and Crime Commissioners and Police and Crime Panels.

We trust that you will find these comments and suggestions to be helpful in addressing any inadvertent gaps that may arise as a result of the proposed legislation. We should be grateful if you could pass this onto the Public Bill Committee as we would welcome their views and would, of course, be pleased to meet with them to discuss these issues further, if that would be of assistance.

February 2011