Members to receive a report updating on the establishment of the Ethics and Transparency Panel as well as an overview of membership and a summary of the first meeting.
Members will be invited to discuss and comment on the report.
Members of the panel received a report providing an update on the establishment of the new Ethics and Transparency Panel (ETP) which included details of membership, terms of reference and a summary of the ETP’s first meeting.
The Police and Crime Commissioner introduced the report with a brief summary of the background and the ETP role. It was noted that the initial first meeting of the ETP was due to take place in September 2022 but was postponed due to the death of Her Majesty the Queen.
The Police and Crime Commissioner indicated his support for scrutiny of police officer and staff conduct and that there would be emphasis on policies and procedures to reduce corrupt behaviour, malpractice, and misuse of powers etc. The ETP would be an advisory board with power to examine and make formal recommendations to the PCC.
Members of the panel discussed the report which included the following comments:
Members welcomed the concept of the new panel but were concerned that the replacement and removal of the previous Ethics Committee was carried out without redress to this panel and that a situation had arisen whereby the PCC had to make a £56k pay out which could perhaps have been avoided if communication was better and legal advice had been taken before making the decision and so avoiding cost to public purse.
The PCC responded that he was underwhelmed by the way the previous Ethics Committee carried out its terms of reference (ToR) and didn’t think it was adequate, relationships between long standing members of that committee and officers was very amicable and whilst that’s generally good he was not sure it was appropriate. The PCC reviewed minutes of the committees previous meetings and gave attention to the function of that committee and his initial feelings were reinforced. It was not possible to reach agreement with the Chair of that committee who thought it was an independent body. The PCC felt it was important to look at the ethics of the police force and OPCC and thought it best to start with clean sheet, new ToR and to recruit to that committee in an open way. The paper today sets out the revised and more robust ToR.
The PCC referred to the £56k pay out, noting legal process and legal advice received which led to an agreed settlement and therefore avoided more costs being incurred.
In relation to the process of selecting the members of the new ETP, the PCC advised that the role was advertised, and a proper recruitment exercise undertaken. The PCC agreed to provide information about the number of applicants and criteria used to select outside the meeting although the information was available online at the OPCC website.
It was queried how crime sampling and complaints were chosen to come before the ETP. The Chief Constable replied that the ETP were given free rein to look at anything and historically they were signposted to any matters with allegations of racism, violence against women and girls, misogyny etc. The only matters they did not have access to were related to ongoing anti-corruption investigations.
It was suggested that the PCC decision to remove the previous Ethics Committee related to his comments on the Black Lives Matter movement. The PCC responded that was not the case, his comments had been inflated and there was no relevance to his decision to disband that committee.
In terms of the ethnic/diverse make-up of the new panel membership, the PCC did not have that information to hand but agreed it could be made available to members after this meeting.
The Chair thanked the PCC for the report.
1. That the contents of the report be noted,
2. That the PCC provide information about the number of applicants, the criteria used to select and the ethnic/diverse make-up of the new Ethics and Transparency panel membership,
3. That the PCC provide a regular update report on the Ethics and Transparency Panel’s progress and outcomes to this meeting.