Legislation laid in Parliament to transfer PCC functions to West Midlands and South Yorkshire mayors 

The Government has laid legislation in Parliament to transfer the police and crime commissioner (PCC) functions in the West Midlands and South Yorkshire to the region’s mayors.

Feb 8, 2024
By Paul Jacques
PCC Simon Foster – transfer plans a hostile takeover.

The transfer will mean that the mayors in the West Midlands and South Yorkshire will have oversight over their respective local police forces to improve collaboration across public services.

The PCC role will be assumed by the newly elected mayors across those local areas following the upcoming elections in May.

This follows two six-week public consultations which gave the public the opportunity to share their opinions on the proposals.

The Home Secretary said the responses were “carefully considered”, together with other information, before the decision was made to proceed with the legislation.

“These changes will come into effect from the next mayoral elections in May 2024, protecting the democratic accountability of the PCC role,” said the Home Office.

“With additional responsibility for their respective local forces, the newly-elected mayors will be well placed to align police and crime priorities with other public services such as transport and regeneration.”

West Midlands PCC Simon Foster has described the plans as a “hostile takeover and undemocratic power grab”, and recently wrote to the Home Secretary requesting that he withdraws the “flawed consultation into plans to merge the roles of the PCC and the mayor”.

He is now considering what further action is required “to defend democracy”.

Subject to parliamentary approval, these changes are a continuation of the Government’s plan set out in the Levelling Up White Paper to see all combined authority mayors exercise PCC functions, “where feasible”.

This has already been successfully implemented in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and in London where the mayor has responsibilities equivalent to that of a PCC, said the Home Office.

Mr Foster said the majority of the people who responded to the consultation disagreed with the mayor’s proposed takeover of the PCC functions in the West Midlands.

He said results showed that 50 per cent of people disagreed with the mayor’s plan, while only 46 per cent of people agreed and four per cent said they didn’t know.

“In 2019 the mayor tried to transfer the powers of the PCC to the mayoralty, but back then he needed the support of the leaders of the region’s councils – something it transpired he did not have,” said Mr Foster.

“The mayor then announced plans to take-over the PCC powers after the Government changed the law specially to allow him to unilaterally make the decision to do so. The Home Secretary then approved the mayor’s request.”

Mr Foster challenged the Home Secretary and the mayor. He pointed out that the failure to hold a public consultation was unlawful, adding: “ As a consequence, the Home Secretary launched a last-minute public consultation in connection with a decision that he had already made.”

Mr Foster said: “The mayor and the Home Secretary had no intention of asking the people of the West Midlands what they thought until I forced them into a humiliating climbdown and they had to launch a public consultation.

“The mayor was unable to secure the democratic consent of the region’s councils; he then failed to act in accordance with the law; and he has now lost a public consultation. Yet, the mayor is persisting with his hostile takeover in defiance of the region’s councils and against the will of the people.

“I am concerned that this will mean more cuts, more chaos and more crime. I call on the mayor and the Home Secretary to listen to the public’s wishes and end this proposed hostile takeover.

“The arrogant and high-handed mayor and Home Secretary are treating elected representatives and the people of the West Midlands with contempt and are taking us for fools. The mayor’s decision to attempt a hostile takeover of PCC powers has been exposed for what it is – a cynical, divisive and undemocratic power grab.

“Let me be clear, I am committed to complying with my pledge to the electorate. I will not hesitate to hold the mayor and the Home Secretary to account. That is why I am now considering what further action is required in order to defend democracy, the rule of law and the rights of the people I represent.”

Parliamentary debates to discuss the legislation are expected to commence shortly.

The term of office for the current mayor of South Yorkshire will be brought forward and end in May 2024 rather than 2026.

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