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How will Chief Constables will share sensitive information with PCCs?

October 11, 2012 5:18 PM

By Paul Varnsverry

Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Paul Varnsverry 3

Liberal Democrat prospective Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Northamptonshire, Paul Varnsverry, considers how Chief Constables will share sensitive information with PCCs

One challenging issue for the nature of the working relationship which will need to be forged between Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners is the sharing of sensitive intelligence material; particularly that relating to planned operations or information held about criminal activity in the police area.

There may be difficulties holding the Chief Constable to account if the Police and Crime Commissioner is unable to be fully briefed on such issues. There are also the concerns this could lead to some PCCs being cleared to receive briefings on high level intelligence, whilst others are not, with obvious issues arising in respect of collaborative working. Those in the new Police and Crime Commissioner role will almost certainly face the conflicting demands of public calls for transparency and provision of information, versus the need to safeguard sensitive intelligence which, if revealed, could undermine public safety and the judicial process.

It is therefore incredible that no plans exist to routinely put candidates through security vetting prior to the election. I believe it is not in the public's, nor the candidates' interests for no formal screening to be conducted prior to the closing date for nominations. It is, however, too late for such a process to take place for this election and I pray situations do not arise during the next three-and-a-half years which prove the folly of that omission. It is something which should be put in place for the May 2016 election.

For the avoidance of doubt; Chief Constables will be unable to share any security classified information with a PCC who has not been cleared by The Security Service. This was confirmed to me several months ago and is recognised as a flaw in the process. Chief Constables are presently unable to share certain information even with their DCC and ACCs.

Paul Holmes says

I am debating Police Commissioners with Keith Vaz and Ken Clarke on East Mids Politics Show on Sun 21st Oct.

I can explain why they are a really bad idea as I spoke against them in Parliament up to 2010 but happy to receive more ideas that anyone wants to throw in.