Proposals to transfer policing powers to the mayor have been backed by a controversial public consultation, papers have revealed.

The two-stage consultation, which asked members of the public whether they believed the position of Police and Crime Commissioner should be scrapped and its powers transferred to the mayor, has been taking place over the past four months.

Papers set to go before the board of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) next week show that 58 per cent of of the 6,059 stage-one respondents agreed with the principle of the transfer, with 37 per cent disagreeing.

Figures also show that stage two of the consultation received just 735 responses, but that a majority of people agreed with every statement made throughout the two consultations.

Mayor Andy Street
 

The consultation was embroiled in controversy last month after it emerged that messages sent from the mayor's Twitter account encouraged members of the Conservative Party to 'do anything you can to get us three, four, five or more responses'.

This message prompted a response from Solihull councillor Bob Grinsell, who stated that he had 'responded three times, using three different names and emails'.

While the mayor was cleared of any wrongdoing by an independent investigation instigated by the WMCA, which found that it was an aide of the mayor who posted the message, the consultation also comments on efforts to remove duplicate responses from the results.

It states: "Before the analysis commenced, the data sets were checked for duplicate responses.

"Where responses could be ascertained as duplicates (either by personal information or where there was significant duplication in free-text responses) they were removed.

"In total 65 duplicate responses were removed from the stage one data set based on the above process. Five further responses had the same email but appeared to be filled in by different people within the household (e.g. different genders or ages).

"There were no duplicate responses received to stage two of the consultation."

'Strong message': West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson
 

Some highlights from the consultation include:

  • Stage one of the consultation had a total of 6,059 completions, with 58 per cent (3,503 people) of respondents either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the principle of the transfer of powers. 37 per cent (2,261 people) either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the proposals.
  • Stage two of the consultation received just 735 responses, with 65 per cent (471 people) agreeing or strongly agreeing that "having a Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC) is more appropriate than having two separate representatives". 30 per cent of respondents (222 people) either disagreed or strongly disagreed.
  • A majority of respondents also agreed or strongly agreed that the transfer would improve efficiency, governance and accountability.
  • On stage two of the consultation, a majority of respondents ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ to every question. This included whether having a Mayor and DMPC is more appropriate than having two separate representatives and that the role of DMPC should be restricted to those living in the WMCA area.
  • The most frequent free-text comments in support of the proposal outlined the cost-savings that could be made by combining the roles, something which the current PCC disputes. Respondents also highlighted the ability to 'link up' services if they all fall under one individual.
  • Those that disagreed with the proposals mostly highlighted the concern that
    too much power would rest with one individual, as well as concerns that the mayor would not have enough time to focus on policing.
  • A majority of respondents from 6 out of the 7 constituent council areas supported the principle of the transfer (Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council was the only local authority that did not).

The consultation also featured a number of responses from local politicians, including Ian Austin MP (Dudley North), Julian Knight MP (Solihull), Steve McCabe MP (Birmingham Selly Oak), Emma Reynolds MP (Wolverhampton North East), David Jamieson (West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner), the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

Of these, Ian Austin MP, Steve McCabe MP, David Jamieson, the Independent Police and Crime Panel and Emma Reynolds MP all expressed views that were opposed to the transfer, while Julian Knight MP and John Campion (West Mercia PCC) expressed their support for the proposals.

The results will be discussed during next week's WMCA Board meeting (Friday 22), where the board have been recommended to forward the Governance Review, Scheme and consultation outcomes analysis to the Home Office.