There was a change in our programme for our final meeting of the session and instead of the AGM we had a talk from Mike Baker who, at the time, was a candidate for the post of Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales.
Mike was a serving police officer for nearly 30 years taking early retirement because of a spinal injury.He attended university in his spare time gaining a business degree at UWIC followed by a post graduate diploma in law and then qualified as a barrister at Cardiff University. He later qualified as a solicitor and now practices in Cardiff.
As a police officer he was involved in community groups in both Cardiff and the Rhondda and then as a lawyer dealt directly with representatives of the courts, the Probation Service, Crown Prosecution Service and the Victim Support Agency.
Mike then clarified for us the role of the Police and Crime Commissioner, a topic of which we had very little knowledge. These duties include having responsibility to hold the police to account on behalf of the public. This means holding the Chief Constable to account for the performance of the Force Area’s Officers and staff. He would also provide a link between the police and communities, working to turn the desires and ambitions of the public in terms of policing and crime reduction into action.
The Police and Crime Commissioner receives all the funding relating to policing and reducing crime and in consultation with the Chief Constable is responsible for how it is spent, He must also set strategic direction and aims for the police through the Police and Crime Plan. He can also hire and fire the Chief Constable when necessary as long as the relevant legal requirements are met.
Wider responsibilities include responsibility for reducing crime and a duty to deliver better value for money and improve the effectiveness of the police. A lively question and answer session followed and by the end the group felt that they had a much better understanding of the role of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
At the election two days later, Alun Michael was chosen to be the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales.