By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
More powers should be given to police and crime commissioners, says a Kent chief as he presses the Government for major reform.
Matthew Scott has lobbied Boris Johnson’s administration for greater authority within the criminal justice system and has received support from Kent councillors.
It comes alongside a review being undertaken by the Home Office on what the role of police commissioners should look like after Covid.
Mr Scott, who has served as Kent’s police and crime commissioner for the last four years, said: “Much to the disappointment of many, rumours of our demise are greatly exaggerated.
“We will be carrying on and the Home Office wants to give us more responsibilities.”
However, the county’s police chief said any new powers would not impact on the “independence” and “integrity” of the judiciary, which includes the crown prosecution service (CPS) and courts.
A police and crime commissioner is an elected official whose role largely is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account. There are more than 40 in the UK.
More than 3,800 officers currently work in Kent, with at least 450 recruited under the watch of Mr Scott since 2016. However, he also bears some responsibility in the criminal justice sector.
After serving two years as chair of the Kent Criminal Justice Board, Mr Scott says he is seeking to improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system and the experience for victims and witnesses. He also wants to reduce reoffending.
In a report published to the panel last Tuesday, the commissioner said: “I remain firmly of the belief that further devolvement of criminal justice powers has the potential to improve the journey of all service users, as well as outcomes across the criminal justice system.
“Whilst the Ministry of Justice is yet to make a decision on the devolvement of more powers, I continue to engage with ministers to press for reform.”
Earlier today, Mr Scott expanded on his commitment to a panel of councillors who sit on the Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel.
Speaking from Swanley Police Station for the virtual public meeting, he said: “I think police and crime commissioners could have a greater say on probation and some work on offender management and rehabilitation.
“There could be more done locally in the criminal justice board arena to make it more of a statutory organisation and give it some teeth.”
Cllr Mike Hill (Con), who was chairing a panel for the first time since the last meeting in February, said he would be “keen” to see more joined up thinking across the criminal justice system.
Kent County Council’s cabinet member for communities added: “More power to your elbow.
“I think it’s an important of your role and something which has not had the attention it deserves.
“I look forward to hearing a good result from that.”