19 October 2012

Stop and Search Your PCC - A view from the voters

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West Midlands' Community Foundation discuss their priorities from a potential Police and Crime Commissioner.

The views in this blog represent those of the authors and are not necessarily those of StopWatch.

The Community Foundation

On Monday 8 October, the Community Foundation organised a community question time event with some of the candidates vying to be the Midlands’ next Police and Crime Commissioner.

In the last few years, the Foundation has been at the forefront of mobilising communities to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour issues in their neighbourhoods. For example, we organise collective walkabouts during which local residents and service providers uncover particular issues – be it graffiti, vandalism, excessive littering, or anti-social behaviour – and discuss collective solutions. We also work with local parents to undertake periodic patrols in anti-social behaviour hotspot areas, with the local police community liaison officer. The idea is to create awareness amongst parents of the types of anti-social behaviour committed by youths (who may even be their own children!) so they can have a more informed discussion with their children about this issue.

It was in this spirit the Foundation liaised with local communities across West Midlands to identify some of the key issues troubling people and, by extension, some of the key commitments we would like to see from any new Police and Crime Commissioner. As you can imagine, the range of issues was diverse, but we managed to boil it down to five key points.

First, to increase resources to frontline policing to improve community reassurance in areas with high crime and disorder.

Second, to include Islamophobia as a specific hate crime flag on the police incident recording system, similar to how racist and anti-Semitic incidents are recorded. We would also press the Commissioner to publish this data quarterly with the clearance rate.

Third, to reintroduce the recording of stop and account encounters in across the West Midlands and produce annual monitoring reports for each Operational Command Unit.

Fourth, to not allow any racist, fascist, or extremist group to hold any rally or events in sensitive locations in the West Midlands which might lead to undue fear and cause disorder in the community.

The final point is the clear need to establish clear mechanisms through which the future Commissioner can engage in meaningful dialogue with communities, report on progress, and consult on targets, priorities, and plans. In this respect, the Community Foundation is pressing for a commitment to establish a Youth Advisory Board and a separate Community Advisory Board with representation from faith, community, and youth organisations.

The Community Foundation was recently honoured for the support it provided to the police during the 2011 riots. Those riots showed that there are a vast number of people who want to engage with the police to bring calm, stability, and order to our communities. This five-point plan is an excellent place to start, and I recommend it to the next Police and Crime Commissioner of the West Midlands.