Friday, 22 April 2011

Warwickshire Police Authority Meeting - Public Welcomed but None Attended

WPA Agenda Document
Warwickshire Police (along with other forces) are always in the news so when I read a Twitter message, Full Police Authority meeting 9.30 am tomorrow at Shire Hall, Warwick. Members of the public welcome - I wanted to find out more.

The meeting is not listed at the usual WCC calendar, rather it's at the Warwickshire Police Authority website. That's understandable, but if something is public - then it's public isn't it? All I know is, it's happened many times before when public meetings are held and no public turn up. Hopefully, a post like this may just awaken the curiosity of the people who like me, want to find out more.

The Tweet
In this electronic age, a meeting agenda is freely available on the web for most meetings well in advance of the agreed date and time in person. This allows everyone to read, digest and prepare questions. However, an observer cannot ask questions in the meeting - just listen along and take some notes.

The Warwickshire Police Authority Agenda document (that you can see above) is 52 sheets of paper. Part of the meeting is exempt which excludes members of the public, page 2). In this one, there are twenty sections. As is usual in posts like this, I will give a narrative and you can read the documents yourself - just click the links.

Shire Hall Committee Room 2
So, the meeting started promptly at 9.30am on Wednesday 20 April 2011. Of the 37 people in Committee Room 2, Shire Hall, Warwick were members of the Warwickshire Police Authority, Warwickshire Police, Warwickshire County Councillors, one reporter from a local radio station, Mike Downes from whatsinKenilworth.com and that's it - not one member of the public. Would the public find this room intimidating? Possibly, yes they would. Is that a reason for no public attendance? No, not in my view. My advice, it takes a minute or two to be settled and comfortable - please attend and see for yourself.

After the announcements, apologies, declarations and minutes of the previous meeting come the reports. The new Neighbourhood Policing Model which will come into operation on Monday 9 May 2011was first on the list. This will see the network of 33 Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNT) and a Neighbourhood Protection Team (NPT). Each SNT will have a Beat Manager (Police Constable), Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), Special Constables and Volunteers.

Of the fourteen SNT office locations, six have still to be decided. It was suggested that Retained Fire Stations may provide an office in some cases (It has now been confirmed that Kenilworth SNT will be based temporally at Leek Wootton before moving back to the new Kenilworth Public Service Centre in July 2011).

The next report addressed Police Community Support Officers. PCSO numbers will be reduced from 135 to 121 from 9 May 2011. There are 24 current powers, 21 discretionary powers and 21 offences for which PCSOs may issue penalty notices for. I am not reproducing them all here, just open the link. A question was raised asking whether these powers are sufficient. Chief Constable Keith Bristow made it very clear that the more powers a PCSO has would be proportionate to the number of PCs there are. In other words, more PCSO powers equals less police officers and less PCSO powers equal more officers (all to do with funding).

WPA Our People - Staff Figures
The WPA Policing Plan 2011/14 is in the first draft (39 page document) and with final draft presented on 25 May. WCC will continue with quarterly Community Forums for each SNT. I will be posting much more about Community Engagement over the next few weeks.  The table on the right shows a total of 2,080 staff (924 officers, 136 PCSOs, 779 staff and 241 volunteers within Warwickshire Police.

A General Report of the Chief Constable was the last public item on the agenda which commented on the success of the Royal Visit, awards, governance, voluntary redundancy (offered to all police staff). WPA has to reduce it's spending by £22.9m by 31 March 2015. This meant the Chief Constable has agreed the implementation of Regulation A19 (page 5). The next scheduled meeting of WPA is Wednesday 28 May 2011 at 9.30am which will be the Authorities AGM.

It is not until you have sit in a room for two hours like this until you get an idea of who the Warwickshire Police Authority or Warwickshire County Councillors actually are. Without being there, it's impossible to see how the Warwickshire Police Senior Officers act (they well spoken, polite and approachable by the way). I would recommend attending a meeting like this - even if only once. As always, this post is open to comments.

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