Frequently asked questions about PCCs

Police and Crime Commissioners are new.  They were created by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, and the first elections were on 15 November 2012. If there are further questions you would like to see added to the FAQ section, please contact us.

  • Q1:  What is the legal status of the PCC?

    The Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable are separate "Corporations Sole".  This means that the PCC and Chief Constable have separate legal identities, and can be considered as separate organisations.  Both can enter into contracts, though the Chief Constable requires the consent of the PCC to do so. 

  • Q2:  Who do Police Staff work for?

    After the Police Authority was abolished on 22 November 2012, all police staff transferred to the employment of the Police and Crime Commissioner.  On 1 April 2014, there was a further transfer in which staff either stayed in the employment of the PCC, or transferred to the employment of the Chief Constable.  The numbers and functions of staff that transfer to the employment of the Chief Constable could vary in each Force, as the transfer is a matter for local determination, subject to approval by the Home Secretary.  Police Officers are not employees, but holders of the office of constable.  They remain under the direction and control of the Chief Constable.  The staff who work for the PCC are employed by the office for Police and Crime Commissioner West Midlands (see here).

  • Q3:  How much is the PCC paid?

    PCC pay varies across the country and is set by the Home Secretary.  It varies depending on the size of the Force.  The West Midlands PCC is paid £100,000 per year.

  • Q4:  How many people work for the PCC and what does this cost?

    As of January 2016, there are 26 staff in the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.  Information on the PCC's staff is available here.

  • Q5:  How is the PCC chosen?

    PCCs are directly elected by voters.  PCC elections take place every four years.  These are local elections like any other and you can vote if you are:

    • a British citizen living in the UK or registered to vote as a crown servant or member of the armed services
    • a European Union citizen living in the UK
    • a Commonwealth citizen who either does not need leave to be resident in the UK, or has the necessary leave and is legally resident in the UK
    • Eighteen or older at the time of the election and registered to vote

    There is no limit to the number of terms a PCC can serve.

    PCC elections use the Supplementary Vote system.  The results of the most recent May 2016 election are here.

  • Q6:  What is the Supplementary Vote system?

    Supplementary voting works as follows.  If there are only two candidates, then voters mark which candidate they prefer and the one with the most votes wins.

    If there are more than two candidates, then voters can mark on the ballot paper their first and second choices. It is not compulsory to make a second preference.

    If a candidate receives more than half of all the first choice votes, they are elected immediately.

    If this does not happen, the two candidates with the most first choice votes go through to a second round.  All other candidates are eliminated, but their second choice votes for either of the top two candidates are added to the totals for those two candidates from the first round. 

    The candidate with the highest combined total of first and second choice votes is elected. 

  • Q7:  Why did the government introduce PCCs?

    Local governance of policing in England and Wales used to be the responsibility of Police Authorities, which were committees made up of local councillors and independent members.  Successive governments made proposals for changes to this model, but the coalition government formed in 2010 agreed to introduce directly elected individuals to replace police authorities.  The government believed that police authorities lacked public accountability and visibility, though others have challenged this assessment. 

  • Q8:  Who scrutinises the PCC?

    The PCC is scrutinised and supported by the Police and Crime Panel (PCP), including reviewing the Police and Crime Plan and annual report, requesting information and requiring the PCC and their staff to attend public meetings. The PCP can veto a PCC's proposal for changes to the part of council tax that goes to policing, and the appointment of a Chief Constable.  The PCP can hold confirmatory hearings for some PCC appointments.  There is a PCP in each police force area.

    The West Midlands PCP includes twelve elected councillors from across the seven local authorities, and two independent members.

    In our area, the Police and Crime Commissioner has established a Strategic Policing and Crime Board, both to provide better oversight and maintain links with local communities.

    Police and Crime Commissioners must also publish information about their decisions and activities, as set out in the "governance" section of this website.

  • Q9:  Who can become a PCC?

    A person can stand for election as West Midlands PCC if:

    • they are 18 or over
    • they are a British, Commonwealth or EU citizen
    • they are registered to vote in the West Midlands Police force area

     

    A person cannot stand as a PCC if:

    • they have been convicted of an imprisonable offence
    • they are a serving: civil servant, judge, police officer, member of the regular armed forces, employee of a council within the force area, employee of a police related agency, employee of another government agency, politically restricted post-holder, member of police staff (including Police Community Support Officers) or member of a police authority (this last restriction applied only to the first election in 2012 and is not relevant to future elections)

    Welsh Assembly Members and Members of the European, Scottish and Westminster Parliaments can stand as PCCs, but would need to step down from their existing role before taking office.

    There is a £5000 deposit required to stand in a PCC election.  This is refunded to candidates who secure 5% or more of the vote.

  • Q10:  How does the PCC work with the Chief Constable?

    The PCC's working relationship with the Chief Constable and West Midlands Police will be governed by a Policing Protocol. This is statutory guidance produced by the Home Secretary to which the PCC and Chief Constable will "have regard". The Policing Protocol states that the relationship between the Chief Constable and PCC should be based on "principles of goodwill, professionalism, openness and trust". It also makes clear that "the PCC must not fetter the operational independence of the police force and the Chief Constable who leads it". The full Policing Protocol can be found here.

    Furthermore, the PCC has statutory powers to require information from West Midlands Police, and can chose to publish that information.

  • Q11:  How does the PCC work with other PCCs, Forces and national bodies?

    The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act places a duty to collaborate on PCCs and Chief Constables, requiring them to keep under review opportunities to work with other police forces and organisations. The Act also requires the Secretary of State to produce a Strategic Policing Requirement setting out the national criminal threats and the appropriate national policing capabilities required to counter those threats. This has been published, and the PCC and Chief Constable will be required to "have regard" to the Strategic Policing Requirement in their decisions.

  • Q12:  Are there PCCs for all police Forces?

    There are 41 Police and Crime Commissioners, one for each "territorial" police force in England and Wales outside London.

    In London, responsibility for the Metropolitan Police Service sits with the Mayor of London.  He has created the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC). The Mayor of London has a range of responsibilities beyond policing, and so a Deputy Mayor fulfils the MOPAC function on a day-to-day basis. The Mayor of London and Deputy Mayor are held to account by the Police & Crime Committee of the Greater London Assembly.

    The City of London Police retains a police authority.

    The Police Service for Northern Ireland and Police Scotland have separate governance arrangements and do not have PCCs.

    The non-territorial police forces (including British Transport Police, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the Minstry of Defence Police) do not have PCCs, and retain separate governance arrangements.

  • Q13:  How much has the introduction of PCCs cost?

    The government has said that the running costs for PCCs will be no greater than the total cost of the police authorities they replaced. The total costs of police authorities were hard to assess however, as they were structured in differing ways, with some co-located in police buildings and others not for example, and some supported by local authorities rather than the police. Some included a broader range of functions too. There is therefore no definitive calculation that the new model is less expensive nationally than that which it replaced.

    There will however be additional costs for the elections every four years. The cost of the first elections in 2012 was estimated at £75 million. The election took place in November, and therefore did not coincide with any other existing election.  Thus the cost of these first elections was about the same as that for a stand alone general election in England and Wales.  In future years, the PCC elections will coincide with some local elections, so the total additional costs for the PCC elections should be reduced - government estimates suggest the elections will cost £50 million every four years.

    If however a PCC leaves office during their term for whatever reason, there may need to be an additional local PCC election.  Thus, when West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones died in office in July 2014, there was a by-election at an estimated cost of £4 million.  The cost of police and crime commissioner elections is met by direct funding from the Home Office, with no call on local policing budgets.

    There have been other costs that are not easily quantified, such as those associated with the creation of separate "corporations sole" for the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable, the creation of a new Joint Audit Comittee, and the establishment and running costs for the Police and Crime Panel.