Report of the
Hampshire Police Authority
Stonewall Workplace Equalities Index 2009
The Authority has welcomed Hampshire Constabulary's achievement of second place in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 2009. This index lists the 100 top employers in the country for lesbian, gay and bisexual officers and staff. The Constabulary was second to Lloyds Bank plc and therefore the top public sector employer. The Constabulary had achieved much in this arena in a short time and had effected a culture change across the organisation which was recognised nationally as outstanding work.
Policing and Crime Bill
The Authority was advised on the Policing and Crime Bill which was published on 18 December 2008 and included sections on Police Reform, Sexual Offences and Sex Establishments, Alcohol Misuse, Proceeds of Crime, Extradition and Aviation Security.
The Bill followed a period of consultation which began with the publication of the Green Paper "From the Neighbourhood to the National: Policing our Communities Together" in the summer which was reported previously.
The Authority noted that the Home Secretary had decided not to include provisions for direct elections to police authorities within the Bill. However, she remains convinced that direct elections are the right policy to improve accountability of policing, but recognises this is not the right time to implement this in legislation. The Home Secretary believes that this is a time to `pause and reflect' on the policy. In the meantime, the Home Office is keen that Police Authorities continue to work with them and the Local Government Association to build on and improve public accountability, partnership working and strengthen the role of police authorities.
The key themes within the Bill relate to public accountability, the Senior Appointments Panel and collaboration. Participatory budgeting was also explored in the Green Paper consultation, but introduction of such a scheme does not require legislative change, so it was not included in the Bill. However, Hampshire Police Authority had declined to participate in a pilot participatory scheme by the Home Office due to wider concerns about participatory budgeting in general
In respect of public accountability the Bill reiterates the requirement for police authorities to have regard to the views of communities in discharging all of their functions. This requirement builds on existing duties set out in the Police Act 1996, and Police and Justice Act 2006, and is intended to reiterate the important role of police authorities in carrying out this function.
The Bill provides details in relation to the role and function of the Senior Appointments Panel, outlining its role in advising the Home Secretary and police authorities in relation to senior officer appointments, the training and development needs of chief officers, and ways to increase the pool of potential candidates for appointment as a senior officer. Other sections of the Bill require amendments to the Police Act 1996 to allow this to take place.
The Bill also includes a section on the development of collaboration agreements between police forces and/or police authorities, including specific reference to the need to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. The section also includes a requirement for police authorities to put in place accountability arrangements for collaboration arrangements, and provides the ability for the Home Secretary to give directions to one or more chief officers and/or police authorities, requiring two or more persons to make, or prohibit the making of, collaboration agreements.
The Home Office has provided the Authority and the Constabulary with an indicative figure for its single, top-down target on public confidence. The basic improvement target for each force is 12% by the end of March 2011, in line with the current Public Service Agreement timeline. The Chief Constable advised the Authority that he welcomed the measure but felt the target was unrealistic.
Freedom of Information Act - Publication Scheme Update
The Authority has adopted an updated Model Publication scheme introduced by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and noted that the ICO will be reviewing schemes and that Police Authorities will be among the first public bodies to be inspected.
Under the scheme, the Authority will provide details of information held under seven categories much of which is already published on its website. At the same time, the Authority approved development of its website to comply with the Information Commissioner's requirements.