HL Deb 17 January 1994 vol 551 cc37-9WA
Lord Lyell

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they intend to select the five members of each police authority whom the Home Secretary will be required to appoint under the provisions of the Police and Magistrates' Courts Bill 1994 and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

Members of the public will be able to put themselves forward for appointment as independent members of a police authority. To assist people to decide whether they have the qualities to undertake the duties of a police authority member, my right honourable friend is publishing today a job description and personal profile against which candidates' suitability for appointment will be considered.

Job Description

The main tasks of a police authority will be:

To establish the local priorities for policing in consultation with the Chief Constable.

To ensure that there are effective arrangements in consulting local communities about policing and for reflecting those views in local policing priorities.

To set the total budget for policing for the year.

To approve and publish a costed plan for policing. The police authority will need to ensure that the plan is designed to deliver both the Government's key objectives and those which are set locally.

To monitor the financial and other performance of the police force during the year in terms of key and local objectives and targets.

To maintain a dialogue with the Home Office about the achievement of key and local objectives for policing.

To publish annual performance results in a standard form to allow comparison of performance against other forces.

To participate in the selection of senior police officers.

To participate in the selection of senior civilian staff, both for the force and the authority itself.

Members of a police authority will be expected to:

Act on behalf of local people as the "customer" of the service which the police force provides.

Consult the public about the work of the police.

Help to build a partnership between the police and the local community.

In achieving these aims, members of the authority will be expected to:

Attend all meetings of the police authority.

Attend meetings of any sub-committees of the authority as appropriate.

Prepare for these meetings by reading papers, reports and background information in advance and by keeping abreast of developments both locally and nationally in the policing sphere.

Represent the police authority in discussions with:

  1. other police authories
  2. staff associations
  3. local government
  4. central government
any other groups with an interest in policing matters

Attend local police consultative groups as appropriate.

Consult with representatives of the local community about issues relating to policing.

It is envisaged that the above duties will require a minimum commitment of 18 days a year. Most commitments will be on weekdays, on some occasions during the evenings.

There is a statutory obligation on police authority members to set a lawful budget each year. Failure to do so may lead to a member being surcharged if auditors consider that the authority suffered a financial loss as a consequence.

Appointments will be made for a period not exceeding four years.

Police authority members are not paid but are entitled to receive an allowance and expenses relating to the work they undertake on the authority's business.

Personal Profile

Potential candidates should be at least 21 years old, be under 70 years of age at the expiration of their term of appointment and be of good character. They should also meet the following criteria:

They should live or work in the area for which the authority is responsible.

They should possess good communication skills.

They should have good financial skills.

They should be able to demonstrate the ability to challenge accepted views in a constructive way.

They should have an understanding of the needs of the community with regard to policing and of the pressures and challenges which face the police themselves.

They should have skills and experience which would broaden the expertise available to the authority.

Police authorities should include members from a wide range of backgrounds and experience and should reflect the composition of the society they serve.

All applications received will be considered in the first instance by one of six regional short-listing panels. Each regional panel will consist of a professional recruitment consultant and two people independent of government.

My right honourable friend shall select those he wishes to appoint as members of police authorities from the short-list for each authority submitted by the regional panels.

The involvement of people independent of government in the short-listing procedure, and the publication of the selection criteria for these appointments emphasise the Government's aim that the five independent members of each police authority should be truly independent, and bring to their authorities a broader range of skills and experience.

My right honourable friend will be consulting the Association of Lord-Lieutenants about their possible involvement in the short-listing procedure.