I attended this meeting today because I am the opposition shadow for crime and community safety on the council. Oxford’s member on the panel is Cllr Pat Kennedy, the Oxford City Executive Board member with that portfolio. The panel’s job is to hold the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley to account. This Commissioner’s area covers Oxon, Berks and Bucks so is rather large – it has one member from every principal local authority in the area, giving a membership of:
Councillor Bill Bendyshe-Brown (Wycombe District Council), Councillor Mark Booty (West Oxfordshire District Council), Councillor Noel Brown (Chiltern District Council), Terry Burke (Independent Co-opted Member), Councillor Anita Cranmer (South Buckinghamshire District Council), Councillor Trevor Egleton (Buckinghamshire County Council), Councillor Jesse Grey (Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead), Councillor Bill Jones (Vale of White Horse District Council), Councillor Pat Kennedy (Oxford City Council), Councillor Kieron Mallon (Oxfordshire County Council) (Vice-Chairman), Councillor Iain McCracken (Bracknell Forest Council), Councillor Tony Page (Reading Borough Council), Councillor Barrie Patman (Wokingham Borough Council), Councillor Pam Pearce (Aylesbury Vale District Council), Councillor George Reynolds (Cherwell District Council), Councillor Bill Service (South Oxfordshire District Council), Councillor Mohammed Sharif (Slough Borough Council), Rajinder Sohpal (Independent Co-opted Member), Councillor Cec Tallack (Milton Keynes Council) and Councillor Quentin Webb (West Berkshire Council)
It elected a chair and vice chair today for the year, and we heard the Police and Crime Panel Annual report as well as the annual report from the commissioner himself. There was a bit of a silly debate about the Commissioner’s expenses where the panel decided it was not its remit to decide if the Commissioner should have a driver or not. There was a report from the Oxford Safer Communities Partnership, which I think does great work in our City an update on issues particularly of importance to Oxford as a City. There was an update on operation Bullfinch from Chief Constable Sara Thornton and Superintendent Christian Bunt and they also gave an excellent overview of the work Thames Valley Police is doing to develop multi-agency approaches to child sexual exploitation.
At the end of the meeting Cllr Kennedy and I asked about the closure of the custody suite at St. Aldate’s police station meaning that all prisoners would now have to be taken to Abingdon. I felt assured by Supt. Bunt that this was a sensible move as the Oxford facilities are awkward being at the top of the building and rather past their sell-by date. He said he would circulate a short memo to councillors addressing concerns about the risk of new arrangements meaning police officers might take longer to get back on the streets after an arrest and I was reassured that vulnerable people arrested in Oxford then released from Abingdon would not be just put on the street with no means to get back to Oxford.