The common and regular use of abbreviations has the problem of people often overlooking the actual meaning of the initials once they get used to them. However in addition to that challenge, there is also the problem when roles are being partially understood or having subtle limits applied. When the Police and Crime Commissioner roles were first formed, tragically a significant number of the party political members treated it as if it was purely a Police Commissioner role. Indeed very few of the existing PCCs have ever dealt with any elements of the Criminal Justice issues. Most of them have ignored the Prison, Probation and Court elements that our communities need to have a local representation for. Sadly the Conservative Government has sought to retain control of these three elements and instead of encouraging PCCs to get involved in Crime issues, they called on them to try to remove Council involvement in the Fire and Rescue systems. However that is not what the electors have agreed with. Indeed a significant number of local people would rather that the Criminal Justice issues would be dealt with by PCCs. Indeed Nick Herbert the previous Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs was the person who developed the PCC role and he made it very clear in his presentation in 2011 in London that there was a need for the PCCs to reform the Criminal Justice System, and he made it clear then that the System did not exist because the elements were not properly linked. There is a very clear link between the Police and Criminal Justice agencies, whereas the blue light connection between Police and Fire and Rescue agencies is much less relevant to the words of Police or Crime. So having explained the reason for the next generation of PCCs to focus on Criminal issues there is a very clear theme that needs to be addressed by our PCCs
According to this article in the Children and Young People Now online magazine written by Fiona Simpson Black boys and young men are frequently subjected to harsher sentences and less likely than white children to receive out of court disposals, according to new research from the Youth Justice Board. The YJB has published a document that is available here called the “Ethnic disproportionality in remand and sentencing in the youth justice system” and it is clearly vital for Police and Crime Commissioners to deal with this in a way that will challenge the failings of the Government. Of course the challenge in settings such as Sussex, Kent and Hampshire where all of the PCCs are members of the Governments political party is that unless the current PCCs are replaced with Independent PCC candidates, that people like Katy Bourne, Matthew Scott and Michael Lane will simply accept the requirements from the Conservative Party irrespective of how the residents of the three areas would want to see issues resolved. The situation in Surrey is a bit more complex as David Munro was elected as a Conservative PCC but he lost their support in the preparation for the 2020 election and so he is now an Independent. In some respects this is a much stronger opportunity for David to respond to the YJB issue that has been identified. According to the CYPN article
The YJB report, which builds on the Lammy Review, published in 2017, finds that “there are notable differences between children of different ethnicities in risk, wellbeing and offending profiles with black children and children of mixed ethnicity having the largest differences compared to white children”.
“Black children were most likely to receive a custodial sentence and to serve longer sentences than all other ethnic groups,” the report states, adding that they are also less likely than children of all other ethnicities to receive out of court disposals.
Let us hope that in Sussex, Kent and Hampshire that in May or whenever we get to vote for our new PCCs that we are able to replace Katy, Matthew and Michael with Independent PCCs who will be willing to challenge the political party that currently runs our nation and which these three people are members of.