Police relational accountabilities: The paralysis of police accountability?

Image by James Eades

In his new article published in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, Dr Simon Cooper of Essex Law School examines the new relational accountabilities of Chief Constables, Police, and Crime Commissioners [PCCs] and Crime Panels [PCPs] in England and Wales. 

Referring to a number of recent reports and reviews, the discussion initially focuses on the effectiveness of these relationships and, in particular, the inefficiency of PCPs. 

Dr Cooper’s article develops current understanding, showing that PCPs may cause a new unforeseen consequence. Namely, the exercise of accountability and the governance of policing may be unusually reactive to the ‘one-to-one’ accountability relationship between PCCs and Chief Constables.

Such recommendations are made to strengthen the exercise of accountability and the governance of policing. Specifically, the Home Secretary is encouraged to review the Policing Protocol Order (2011) and issue a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure ‘effective, constructive working relationships’ are not just a quixotic pursuit but a practical reality that safeguards the governance of policing.

Dr Cooper’s research is all the more important in light of Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services finding in 2022 that there is an ‘atmosphere of mistrust and fear’ between PCCs and Chief Constables and The Police Foundation reporting ‘a crisis of confidence’, recommending ‘root and branch reform.’

The article can be accessed in full here.