Decisions must be:
- Made by people, who have the power to do so;
- In line with the proper procedures;
- Not a decision that no reasonable person would come to (the Wednesbury reasonableness test.)
The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) makes all decisions unless they are specifically delegated within the Scheme of Consent/Delegation.
The OPCC needs to show that decisions are sound and based on relevant information.
Staff also need to show that the decision-making process is open and transparent.
Good governance is vital to decision-making and requires:
- Openness – publication of decisions and background information;
- Engagement – the ability of the public/stakeholders to influence;
- Recording – being able to show what decisions were taken and why;
- Accountability– being able to demonstrate that a decision was appropriate, especially if challenged or when reporting to the Police & Crime Panel.
- Support and advice – from experts including financial, legal, stakeholders or specialist. While decisions are a matter for the PCC, they must still be legal, auditable, reasonable and based on accurate relevant information.
Many decisions have to be taken at specific times. For example, the budget/precept process has set time frames and processes that involve various actions and decisions in the run up to the main decisions.
The PCC will have to justify decisions to:
- The Police and Crime Panel (the Panel). One of the principal responsibilities of the panel is to scrutinise PCC decisions.
- Balance governance processes with the need for the PCC’s decision-making to be dynamic and involve as little bureaucracy as possible.
As a general rule, all decision-making meetings are open to the Chief Executive.
All significant decisions are recorded in the minutes of a meeting. They are kept in the PCC’s Office or recorded on a decision notice.
Records will be held in the PCC’s Office and published on the PCC’s website unless deemed to be exempt. There is a list of exemptions, below. Any record of an exemption should be recorded.
Information supporting a decision will be kept with the decision record and made available on request (subject to any exemption).
Generally, the PCC’s decisions and decision-making process are a matter of public record.
They are open to scrutiny by the public – and in particular by the Police and Crime Panel.
The PCC will use as general guidelines exemptions provided in the following documents:
- The Freedom of Information Act 2000
- Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972
Meetings of the PCC are not public unless specifically directed by the PCC.
The procedure document sets out how decisions are made and the procedures, which should be followed to make processes efficient, transparent and accountable to local people. Some of these processes are required by law. Others are selected by the PCC.
Nothing in this procedure limits the right of the PCC to:
- Make a decision at any time and by whatever means he thinks appropriate.
The authority to make certain decisions may be delegated to specific individuals by the PCC. These delegations will be set out in the PCC’s Scheme of Delegation/Consent.
Scheme of Delegation/Consent
The PCC’s Scheme of Delegation/Consent contains the authority (or permission,) by which decisions can be delegated to other officers.
The main aim is to ensure a process that allows others to make some decisions without the need for the PCC to be involved. However, many of these decisions still require the PCC to be consulted or informed.
These delegations are a way of making sure decision-making is more efficient and prevent the PCC from becoming overwhelmed by a huge workload.
There are six types of decisions. They are set out in the PCC’s Scheme of Delegation/Consent. Types of decisions are:
- Decisions made by the PCC;
- Decisions made by the Deputy PCC;
- Key Officer Decisions in consultation with the PCC or Deputy PCC (or other specified person, for example, the Chief Executive;)
- Non Key Officer Decisions in consultation with the PCC or Deputy PCC (or other specified person for example, the Chief Executive;)
- Significant Officer Decisions;
- Other Officer Decisions.
Each decision type has set criteria and actions, which must be followed. A decision record form must be completed for each type of decision.
Decision Forms and Documentation
The following references to publishing decisions will not apply to ‘exempt information’ (see esp Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972)
The PCC has a forward plan, which is reviewed on a monthly basis. It provides details of PCC, Deputy PCC and Officer ‘Key Decisions’ planned over the next 4 months. This plan is published on the PCC’s website.
If decisions are taken as a matter of urgency so they are not ‘picked up’ in monthly review then they should be added as soon as practicable after it is determined that a decision is to be taken.
When a decision has been made and signed by the PCC/relevant officer, details must be entered on the Decision Summary Register. The register is published on the PCC’s website. Supporting information/documentation and the decision notice will be referenced.
Decisions relating to ‘exempt’ matters will be recorded but it may be appropriate not to publish full details.
Police and Crime Panel Scrutiny and ‘Call In’ Provision
The Police and Crime Panel has a statutory responsibility to scrutinise decisions made by the PCC under (s 28(6) Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.) As a result the panel requires access to decision records.
Key decisions need to be fully recorded and reported/published to allow scrutiny by the panel.
The panel’s scrutiny of decisions generally falls into two categories:
- General scrutiny/questioning of the PCC and his/her decisions at a scheduled panel meetings
- Specific and focused scrutiny of a PCCs decision, which is referred as a ‘call in’.
Scrutiny by the panel is generally limited to key decisions made by the PCC or his/her deputy, although the panel can scrutinise any decisions including those made under the PCC’s Scheme of Delegation/Consent.
To do this, the panel has regular access to the Decision Summary Register as published on the PCC’s website.
Decisions relating to ‘exempt’ matters are recorded but it may be appropriate that full details are not published.
This may also apply to the matters listed in s13(2) of the Police Reform & Social Responsibilities Act 201, which do not have to be reported to the panel.
If the Panel wants to ask about or discuss these matters, they must be dealt with on an individual basis via a discussion between the Commissioner’s office and Panel administrator in the first instance.
The PCC’s decisions may be questioned and scrutinised by the Panel at any time. However, as a general rule:
- If a member wishes to discuss/question a decision, they should give at least 5 days’ notice prior to the panel meeting to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to enable the PCC to be fully prepared/briefed.
- Only decisions taken since the last panel meeting will be subject to scrutiny/questions.