Police chief on defensive over MPs report

Going nowhere Police and Crime and Commissioner Clive Grunshaw
Going nowhere Police and Crime and Commissioner Clive Grunshaw
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Lancashire’s police boss today defended his position in the wake of a damning report that questioned the role of Police and Crime Commissioners.

The Home Affairs Select Committee called for “urgent reforms” to prevent the public becoming disillusioned with the £85,000-a-year position.

But former Fleetwood councillor, and PCC for Lancashire, Clive Grunshaw said significant progress has been made since he was elected in 2012, despite a turbulent time which saw police investigate expense claims he made while serving as a county councillor.

He said: “I think the ability to shape policy for policing; ensure efficiency and hold the Chief Constable to account for the performance of the police have all been greatly enhanced by the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners.

“They replaced Police Authorities – which were unwieldy, unaccountable, inefficient and expensive. PCCs deliver a far wider range of service, engage with the public and cost less than what went before.

“The verdict on the long-term future of PCCs is yet to be decided but, I believe, they should be given a chance to prove their worth, which is already starting to happen.”

The Home Affairs Committee report questioned public support for PCCs after the low election turnout, which saw just 15 per cent of voters turn out in Lancashire.

It also called for deputy commissioners elected on the same ticket as PCCs to avoid accusations of “cronyism” – something Mr Grunshaw was accused of after appointing former Police Authority members to senior posts following the election.

He denied the allegations at the time, saying he chose the best candidates for the jobs.

Mr Grunshaw added: “The promotion of the election, and why PCCs were being introduced, was badly handled and badly timed, but the public have always responded well to the work we have been doing.

“It has also been a challenging time implementing swingeing cuts imposed on the police service, while still being focused on delivering the best possible service.

“PCCs will ultimately be accountable to the electorate for their work.

“I believe we have come a long way in a short time and, by the time of the elections in two years time, we will be able to demonstrate many positive outcomes.”

Dave Blacker, chairman of Talbot PACT, backed Mr Grunshaw. He said: “I am glad we have got him, but we need to support what is going on.

“You can’t have millions cut from the police budget and have nothing affected. We are still here, but it’s hanging by a thread.

“I’m not happy with where we are, but I think the fact we have survived so far is down to the commissioner.”

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, said: “The concept of police and crime commissioners is still very much on probation.

“Some Commissioners have fallen well short of the public’s expectations and urgent reforms are needed to ensure that this concept does not put at risk public trust.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The introduction of PCCs has been the most significant democratic reform of policing and they are working hard to ensure communities have a stronger voice in policing.”

Earlier this year, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped charges relating to accusations Mr Grunshaw “double charged” a number of his expenses claims during his time as a county councillor and member of the Police Authority.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into the affair has since been re-opened, and is on-going.