Giles Orpen-Smellie (the current Commissioner) spoke on the role of Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
He explained how, after Robert Peel founded the police in the 1820s, this country came to have the police forces it has today. In 1964 the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson decided that political oversight of the police should be at county level with the Local Police Authorities, but in 2010 the coalition government under David Cameron introduced the role of Police and Crime Commissioner (a publicly elected role) for more accountability.
Giles explained his role as a Police and Crime Commissioner: he appoints the Chief Constable, who is operationally independent and answerable to the government; secondly, he sets policing priorities for Norfolk, which include the prevention of crime and working towards safer communities; and thirdly, he delegates to the Chief Constable most of the operational matters of dealing with crime.
Giles also discussed some of the very many problems with which the police have to deal, such as high numbers of emergency calls (which means that fewer police officers can be ‘on the beat’); responding appropriately to reports of domestic abuse, and also to mental health-related crime; and dealing with threats to life.