Police and crime commissioners (PCCs) should have the power to hold prison governors, senior probation officers and court managers to account, according to a new report.
In a report from the group Policy Exchange, PCCs are a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to make criminal justice more efficient, accountable and relevant to communities.
Lincolnshire PCC Alan Hardwick said the ideas shouldn’t be “dismissed out of hand” but added that it would create extra work for him and other commissioners in England and Wales.
The report, Power Down, calls for ten PCCs to be chosen as pilots and effectively become “local ministers for policing and crime.”
If the plans are adopted, commissioners would see their current role of setting policing strategies, budgets and appointing chief constables expand to setting the criminal justice agenda in their area.
The report said: “The election of PCCs is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the balance of power in a system currently almost bereft of local control, financial responsibility or democratic accountability.
“It is an opportunity that, despite November’s inaugural elections of PCCs, is yet to be sufficiently grasped by key government departments and agencies, many of which have struggled to meaningfully engage with PCCs so far.
“But to miss the chance would be a mistake.”
Since his election last November, Mr Hardwick has been involved in rows over the scrapping of plans for a new custody suite in Lincoln, the recruitment of up to 1,000 volunteers and the suspension of Chief Constable Neil Rhodes.
Mr Hardwick said “I would be prepared to consider anything that leads to greater efficiency and it would be silly to dismiss the ideas from Police Exchangy out of hand.
“However, whether or not one person is physically capable of doing that is debatable as it would mean a great deal of extra work.”
Martin Davies, chief executive of Lincolnshire Probation Trust, said: “The Government’s proposal to transform probation delivery would mean that chief executives would be appointed by private contractors who have successfully bid to deliver services.
“So it would not be possible for PCCs to appoint probation chief executives.”