AROUND 70 local people, including a Tamworth man who are members of panels that shine the spotlight on policing across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent came together for the first Accountability Conference.
The event was hosted by Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis as part of his aim to make Staffordshire the most open and transparent police service in the country.
The Commissioner established the independent Ethics, Transparency and Audit Panel (ETAP), made up of trained members of the public, three years ago to monitor different aspects of performance and standards in policing across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. ETAP has received national recognition for its work on the police use of Taser, stop and search and crime recording in Staffordshire.
Safer Neighbourhood Panels have launched over the last 12 months in ten areas across the county and Stoke-on-Trent to shape policing at the most local level. Panels influence local policing and community safety, scrutinise the work done by police in their area, give feedback to communities and examine the impact of community resolutions and restorative justice. Members have also recently been trained to examine body worn video footage from police officers.
ETAP and Safer Neighbourhood Panel members discussed progress so far at the event at police HQ in Stafford on Saturday, 5 March. They also talked about how their work will develop in the future.
Mr Ellis, who opened the conference, said: “Both the Ethics, Transparent and Audit Panel and Safer Neighbourhood Panels have been nationally recognised as an excellent model for holding police to account by developing expert citizens.
“The conference was an opportunity for the local people who make up the panels to share progress and learning as well as agree the next steps to make policing in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent even more transparent and accountable.
“Interest from local people continues to grow and it’s important that the work of each Safer Neighbourhood Panel, and the county-wide work of ETAP, is used in a way that provides a complete picture of how Staffordshire Police are performing in each local area and across the wider force area.
“PCCs in other parts of the country are using the approach we’ve developed as a model for their areas. It is members of the panels who have made this work so effectively and, while it is early days still, I am confident it will go from strength to strength.”
Derek Hoey, from the recently formed Tamworth Safer Neighbourhood Panel, said:
“I believe that the Safer Neighbourhood Panel is a critical part of the development of local policing. It enables local people to have a practical understanding of the issues facing the police in their area – and to have a genuine ability to comment on how those issues are being addressed. The panel is able to define its own agenda and work together in the way in which its members think is best for their area. It is a good example of community engagement combined with local accountability.”
For more information on Safer Neighbourhood Panels and ETAP visit http://www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/volunteer/