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PCCs’ Commissioning Powers Boosted

Role of elected individuals will extend to victims’ services in addition to crime reduction and community safety initiatives

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) have been handed additional commissioning powers which will see them shape the victims’ services provided in their local areas.

The elected individuals had already been given powers to commission crime reduction and community safety services. But the government has now revealed that they will additionally take on the mantle of redefining their force area’s victims’ services.

Ministers believe these would be best delivered locally to meet different community needs. It is likely that PCCs will have to work with community safety partners, criminal justice agencies and the voluntary sector to help deliver services.

Existing funding arrangements for community safety and related partnerships will continue through 2012-13, the Home Office said.
But in 2013-14 PCCs will receive additional money from the Community Safety Fund to support local services – in addition to the government grant and local precept.

The ring-fenced spending for the remainder of 2012-13 is likely to limit the ability of a PCC to radically change services earmarked for commissioning until April 2013.

Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, Nick Herbert (pictured), said: “How victims are treated is essential to maintaining public trust in policing and the criminal justice system.

“That is why the government has decided that funding for a range of services will be devolved to democratically elected and accountable police and crime commissioners.”

The commissioning side of the PCC role could see radical changes to the services currently provided in communities, such as those carried out by Victims Support, or change who they are delivered by. Additionally the elected individual will be able to decide whether some of the services can be provided from within a force.

The government says it will retain responsibility for the commissioning of victims’ services where there are “proven economies of scale” or the services are specialist. These will include services provided to those bereaved through murder, victims of people trafficking, rape support centres and the witness service.

The PCCs will also be able to award grants to organisations or bodies that they consider will support their community safety priorities “in accordance with their police and crime plan”.

Additionally they will have to establish relationships with “local commissioning frameworks”, the government says. For example, new health commissioning arrangements, under the banner “health and well being boards”, are being introduced on a similar timetable to PCCs.

The Home Office says the boards will be “vital partners” for PCCs and the two will have to find “common cause” on a range of crime and health issues to work through and influence.

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