…The Chair reminded members of the Panel at this stage that they will not be discussing the allegations against the Commissioner. They are both beyond the remit of this Panel and any discussion of specific allegations could prejudice ongoing investigations.
The Chair will interrupt and close down debate if he considers that members are creeping beyond the Panel’s remit.
He reminded members that this meeting is being webcast. The discussion will be available for up to a year following this meeting.
… Regarding alleged matters of conduct, the Panel has delegated the handling of complaints to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC). [So the office of the officer being investigated investigates] …
Discharge of the functions of the Police and Crime Commissioner
The Panel will be asked to consider the discharge of the function of the Police and Crime Commissioner under Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel Rules of Procedure 2.1(7). …
The Chair gave the four members of the Panel who requested this meeting the opportunity to ask their questions –
‘The code of conduct under which we all operate is based on the Nolan Principles of Public Life. It stresses the fact that public perception of our behaviour is all important. Do you therefore think it would have been better for you to have waited until you had been cleared by the investigation before taking up office?’
‘In hindsight would it have been prudent to discuss this issue with the Police and Crime Panel prior to the public referral to enable us to best support you in your role?’
‘Does this mean that any member of the Devon and Cornwall Force and your office, any of them who may be the subject of future investigations, will be allowed the same leniency as you have exhibited here, and not be required to be removed from duty or suspended during their period of investigation, and also what your comments might be in relation to recent comments made by the Police Federation on behalf of the Police?’
‘Your predecessor in the role of Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Hogg, I think it’s fair to say took up the role at a time when there was very little public appetite for the role – election turnout in the order of 15% I seem to remember – and certainly very little knowledge of it. During the course of his term of office he worked very hard and in his own words he says he believes that he built up the trust and confidence of the public in the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and I would add to that he did that largely in a non-political way. He has recently said in an interview that he believes that your recent action have pretty much destroyed in 24 hours all that good work over the previous 4 years. Would you agree with his statement?’
Alison Hernandez (Police and Crime Commissioner) and Andrew White (OPCC Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer) were available to answer the Panel’s questions and address their concerns.
Members were advised that –
the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) –
· was aware of, and followed, the Nolan Principles of Public Life;
· was not aware of any negative feedback from members of the public;
· had gained a lot of public support since being elected;
· had met with the previous PCC, Tony Hogg, and had his full support;
the OPCC Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer had made the referral to the IPCC. It was standard practice to refer any allegations against a PCC to the IPCC and this decision had been taken after consultation with the Chair. (members were reminded that responsibility for non-criminal complaints had been delegated to the OPPC Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer). Arrangements had been made for an investigation to be conducted by another police force;
The Panel re-convened at 12 noon.
The Chair’s proposal that –
the Panel noted that whilst the Commissioner is subject to allegations she has not been charged with a criminal offence;
it is the opinion of the Panel that the functions of the Police and Crime Commissioner as laid out in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, are able to be discharged by the elected Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner;
Panel members and the public have concerns that the Police and Crime Commissioner has made public comments which could be deemed political in nature. It is the opinion of the Panel that this is not commensurate with the independent role of a Police and Crime Commissioner and the Commissioner should refrain from making any such statements in the future;
the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, as delegated by the Police and Crime Panel has referred a complaint regarding conduct to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. As such the Panel has fulfilled its statutory obligations;
the Panel will continue to scrutinise the decisions made by the Police and Crime Commissioner in connection with the discharge of the functions of that role, until such time that the outcomes of ongoing investigations are known.
seconded by Councillor Wright, was agreed unanimously (16 members present out of 20).