Policing the Police and Crime Commissioners

  • Roy John Bailey

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis, which critically examines the ability of Police and Crime Panels(PCPs) to subject Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to effective and robust scrutiny, presents the findings of a mixed methods study conducted across England and Wales. The views of PCCs, members of PCPs, panel clerks and other stakeholders, were sought in respect of the effectiveness of the current governance model. As politics is central to the new model, the participants reflect he main political parties, including independent PCCs and panel members.
Democratic oversight of policing was changed radically in 2012, with the replacement of police authorities by directly elected PCCs. While the focus was, quite properly, on making the police more accountable, there has been growing concern from criminal justice commentators about the lack of provision in the new arrangements for holding PCCs to account.
There is now a growing body of evidence that PCPs are unable to exercise even a modest degree of scrutiny, leaving PCCs free to ignore advice or censure (Loveday, Lewis and Bailey, 2014). Often cited by the critics are examples of maverick behaviour by PCCs, which have frequently gone unchecked by PCPs. Some have seen an ironic twist in the new model of democratic oversight in that the only effective scrutiny of PCCs has occurred at a national, rather than local level, something not intended by the legislators (Chambers, 2013).
The findings provide compelling evidence that further reform is necessary if PCPs are to be effective in their statutory role of holding PCCs to account. Each of the key research areas attracted critical comments from the study participants, especially in relation to panel funding and training for panel members. Similarly, the lack of representiveness of panel members, their high turnover and brief tenure drew sharp criticism. The potential for undue political influence was recognised by many as a problem, as was the need for strong panel leadership. The research also addressed the challenges in identifying suitable candidates to stand in PCC elections, particularly given this is largely undertaken by the main political parties.
This research suggests that the current arrangements do not equip PCPs with either sufficient powers or adequate resources to be effective in their scrutiny role. There is also evidence that panel members, through growing frustration, are losing confidence in their ability to hold PCCs to account, something which will impact the effectiveness of the governance model.
Date of AwardMay 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorBarry Loveday (Supervisor)

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