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 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.


  1. Would attend If I wasn't at work

  2. Good point - the community forums are always in the evening. A live video of the meeting is another possibility. Cost and resources will be cited - will investigate.

  3. I am forever disappointed that more people do not attend local authority meetings. I suppose a worthwhile question to ask is why this is the case?

    I suspect that people do not *think* that they would be interested in the meetings. My experience though is actually that people are interested in what their public authorities get up to. I have most experience at the parish council level, but have numerous examples of when I engage with people they actually confess to being quite interested in what you're talking about (often to their own surprise!).

    I think the local media need to do more to report directly from these meetings, but I suppose that it has long since passed when a jurno from the Telegraph will sit in Shire Hall meetings and report back on the business discussed - more's the shame.

    Perhaps this is where sites like this come in. Perhaps it now falls to hyperlocal sites to hold public officials to account now that the mainstream media aren't prepared to do this.

    The other point (and you touch on this) is for the streaming of meetings on the internet, either with video or just audio. There'll be a cost (there's a cost to everything), but I also consider there to be a responsibility within the public authority to embrace the opportunities the internet now provides.

    In light of the comments from Eric Pickles, it'd be interesting to see what the reaction would be if 'wiK TV' turned up to the next full Council meeting at Shire Hall and announced it was to stream the meeting live over the internet!

    And as a postscript, here's my small contribution to the debate about the availability of local authority meetings online -

  4. Warwickshire or I should say Stratford have already done a live stream of one of their planning meetings I am surprised they haven't done more. I found it very interesting and thought we were on the move forward but its all gone quiet again.

  5. I believe the meetings from Stratford DC were run and organised by Students. Coventry City Council use use for their webcasts of meetings. This is a multi camera operation.

    As for Warwickshire, I was asked to think about asking WCC if I can record their meetings. This is an enormous task. Main issue will be having excellent sound.

    As for Dan's points (from ), there are many reasons why people do not attend meetings. I have a lot on conversations in Kenilworth about this. Reasons vary from: I have no time, I'm busy, That's got nothing to do with me, I didn't know it was on? etc.

    Maybe, attending meetings is not the issue, it's access to the information and what influence you have in the meeting room. For example, in Shire Hall, I have been told, 'The public are not allowed to speak.' I agree with that, but in theory this new world is a conversation.

    In my view, what is needed is sharp news gathers (Dan, I count you as one of these), Councillors who are on-the-money with Social Media Tools and a public who take their rights and responsibilities as citizens seriously. And the last groups are the established print journalists - difficult times for them, cuts everywhere, no one buys their papers, advertisers who are cutting back and therefore titles disappearing.

    No secret, where I sit - come on the hyperlocals and Citizen Journalists.

  6. Mike I think they did it via Ustream.

    I may be wrong but I think that's how I found the eagles but I think your right the students did it.

    It was very good. SDC did tweet it that it was happening.

    I just don't understand why it appeared to stop with one meeting. I think sometimes the problem with Local Parish Councils and Parishioners

    1. Very often people don't understand they can attend and make a difference
    2. Parish Councils have problems attracting interest, because many people are at work all day.
    3. Parish Councils can also become stuck in their ways (I don't blame them when so little support is shown)
    4. It is the older residents with time that on the whole keep our Parish ticking and I admire them for it, however I get increasingly concerned when they don't do something simple like keep their website up to date (They let them selves down) and see it as an after thought. Which of course will have a knock on effect to those that are watching keeping an eye on things from the internet because they are at work and shattered when they get home. Busy professionals won't bother with something that is out of date.
    5. Local Parish often gets mixed up with Politics many people I speak to think Parish is Political.


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