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Devolve more criminal justice responsibility and budgets to local commissioners

We will build on the Policing and Crime Act, which introduced better co-ordination of policing and fire and rescue services, with greater devolution of criminal justice responsibility and budgets to local commissioners.

Our Verdict

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were first elected in 41 force areas in 2012, replacing police authorities. Their responsibilities include holding the police force to account for its performance, and setting out the force budgets. In London and Manchester, elected mayors have taken on the powers and responsibilities of the PCC.

This policy promises to devolve greater criminal justice responsibility and budgets to PCCs.

We would expect national changes to the nature of the role of PCCs to be announced by central government, and changes on an individual basis to be included in local government devolution deals.

We could not find much evidence since the June 2017 election of greater devolvement of responsibilities and budgets nationally. In a statement on the Police Grant Report on 24 January 2019, the Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service proposed greater flexibility for PCCs to raise their precept (the portion of council tax dedicated to local policing) which he claimed could potentially lead to “an additional £509 million public investment in our police system”.

At a local level, in November 2017 at the time of the Autumn Budget, the government announced its intention to expand devolution deals with the Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley and the West Midlands Combined Authority. Government was also “minded” to do a devolution deal with North of Tyne with a new directly elected mayor.

Expanding existing deals may involve changes that move towards fulfilment of this policy, and new devolution deals will almost certainly involve “greater devolution of criminal justice responsibility and budgets”.

Despite the absence of a broad policy implementation initiative, there is some limited evidence of movement on this pledge. We’re marking it as ‘in progress’. We’ll be monitoring the impact of greater flexibility in setting precepts, the outcome of alterations to devolution deals and the proposed new deal, to see whether the effect is to increase devolution as promised. To move this to ‘done’ we would expect to see greater devolution of responsibility and budgets across the majority of the 40 PCC areas. Follow this policy for updates.

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