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North Wales Police and Crime Commissioners reflect on “10 years of bringing people’s voice into policing”

The North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has spoken of the impact the role has had on the region since its creation 10 years ago.

Police and Crime Commissioners came about through a paper from the Home Secretary called “Reconnecting police and the people”, published in September 2010.

The then Home Secretary, Theresa May, wanted a local person to be responsible for policing in each force area, instead of the former Police Authorities, which had governed policing up until then.

It has now been 10 years since the first PCCs were elected in a bid to create a “more direct popular voice in policing.”

Since then north Wales has seen three different Commissioners, Winston Roddick CB KC, Arfon Jones, and Andy Dunbobbin, who were all directly elected by the voters.

The Commissioner has four main duties, which are to set the priorities for policing in North Wales through the Police and Crime Plan; to decide the budget for North Wales Police, which involves setting the recommended precept level for the approval of the Police and Crime Panel; to listen and respond to the public’s views on policing; and to hold the Chief Constable to account for the performance of the Force.

The PCC also provides funding to services across North Wales. These Commissioned Services do valuable work within communities to support victims of crime and support offenders to reduce re-offending.

Examples of these services are the Victim Help Centre based in St. Asaph, which offers advice and support to victims of crime; Checkpoint Cymru, which aims to tackle underlying causes of offending behaviour such as mental health and substance misuse and to provide a credible alternative to prosecution; and services such as DASU, RASASC, and Gorwel that provide support to victims of domestic abuse and violence against women and girls.

PCC Andy Dunbobbin

Andy Dunbobbin, the current Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales commented: “This year marks 10 years since the role of Police and Crime Commissioner was established in England and Wales.

“Winning the election in May 2021 was one of the proudest moments of my life. I am passionate about providing a public service and I vowed to represent everyone in North Wales.

“Following my election, I have become even more convinced of the difference Police and Crime Commissioners can make in ensuring our neighbourhoods and communities are safer and more secure.

“During the past decade, the previous Commissioners and I have been the voice of the people in policing, we’ve listened to the public’s views and held the Chief Constable and senior officers to account to make sure North Wales has the best police service possible.

“We’ve seen great initiatives introduced across the region to help prevent and cut crime. We’ve commissioned services to support victims and we’ve helped ensure an effective and efficient police force that we can all be proud of.

“I always appreciate the partnership between PCCs across England and Wales and am continually impressed by the great work that is being done right across the country.

“This partnership working is especially true in Wales, where the four Police and Crime Commissioners have a strong relationship with each other, and with Welsh Government, that stands as a real model for how to deliver for the people in policing.”

Former PCC, Arfon Jones

A review of the PCC role was launched in July 2020, following a UK Government manifesto commitment to strengthen PCC accountability and to expand their role.

The review is being undertaken in two parts, one that looks at the opportunities to strengthen the Commissioner model, while also mapping longer-term ambitions for the PCC role. Part two focuses on longer term reforms, some of which may require legislation.

The Government has said there will be a focus on aspects of the PCC role that involve issues such as reducing reoffending.

Commenting on his time in office, the second Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, who had himself previously been a North Wales Police officer, said: “I was really honoured to be elected PCC and with such a large majority of cross-party supporters, who clearly wanted a cultural change in the way North Wales Police was policed and which gave me a strong mandate to do things differently.

“It was also a highlight having served as an officer in the force for 30 years.”

Looking at his proudest achievement in office, Mr Jones continued: “I succeeded in achieving much more in my term than I set out to do so at the start.

“There were many highlights, but I think the main one is to start in making a change in culture within policing, to see crime and criminality as product of our environment rather than just individual behaviour.

“It was important that policing understood that criminality had underlying causes, such as adverse childhood experiences and adult trauma and that addressing those underlying causes were far more effective in preventing crime than punishing the offender.

“To address underlying causes and to divert offenders away from criminal justice we established Checkpoint Cymru a project to pull the innovative preventative agenda together. I am proud that most senior officers in North Wales embraced these principles and continue to support them.”