The A-Z of PCC: What are police and crime commissioners?

Mike Bedigan, PA
·3-min read

Elections for new police and crime commissioners (PCCs) will take place on May 6.

But while the term may be familiar to fans of popular cop drama Line Of Duty, with Rohan Sindwhani regularly hindering the investigations of anti-corruption unit AC-12, what do real PCCs do?

Here PA looks at the role of the PCCs, and who will be running for the jobs.

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– What is a police and crime commissioner (PCC)?

PCCs are officials elected by the public to hold chief constables of police forces to account and make the police answerable to the communities they serve.

– When was the role created and why?

The role of a PCC was created in November 2012 under the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition to address the perceived out of touch nature and lack of accountability of policing authorities.

At the time the Home Office described PCCs as “the most significant democratic reform of policing in our lifetime”.

The first PCCs were elected on November 15 2012.

– What is the responsibility of a PCC?

The role of a PCC is to work with local partners to prevent crime and hold their chief constable to account for the performance of the force.

They have a “democratic mandate” to respond to local people’s concerns and can set local force’s policing priorities and their local police force budget.

They can appoint, and where necessary dismiss, the chief constable.

PCCs are also responsible for commissioning community support systems for victims of crime.

New government starts
The role of PCC was created in November 2012 under the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition to address the perceived out of touch nature of policing authorities (PA)

– Can anyone run to be a PCC?

Most people can stand as a candidate at a PCC election in England and Wales as long as they are aged 18 or over, a British citizen, and registered as a local government elector in a local council area that is within the local policing area.

Reasons for disqualifying candidates include if they are serving police or fire officers, part of the civil service, or have been convicted of imprisonable offences.

In London, Greater Manchester and now West Yorkshire the mayor’s responsibilities include those of a PCC.

– How many people are running to be PCCs this year?

In all, there are 202 candidates in this year’s PCC elections, 145 in the English PCC seats, 21 in Wales, and 36 in the mayoral contests.

They include dozens of retired police officers and former members of the Armed Forces, a large number of local councillors, several lawyers, and a sweet shop owner.

– How frequently are PCC elections held?

Elections have been held every four years since 2012 until last year when coronavirus restrictions meant they could not go ahead.

However, it is expected that the next elections, following this year, will take place in 2024 to realign with the original four-year gap.

London Mayoral election
Sadiq Khan, the incumbent mayor of London, whose responsibilities include those of a PCC (PA)

– Do PCCs just oversee the police?

The Policing and Crime Act 2017 introduced opportunities for PCCs to take on responsibility for fire and rescue governance too.

Under the legislation PCCs can join their local fire and rescue authority or consult the public and submit a business case to the Home Secretary seeking to replace the fire and rescue authority in their area.

This option formally creates a police, fire and crime commissioner (PFCC).

– And what is a PFCC?

PFCCs are responsible for putting in place arrangements to deliver an efficient and effective fire and rescue service in the area.

Equipment in a fire engine (Rui Vieira/PA)
Equipment in a fire engine (Rui Vieira/PA)

Similar to the PCC they set the fire and rescue objectives for their area through a fire and rescue plan, appointing the chief fire officer and holding them to account.

They can also set the service budget.