Office of PCC reveals it has received over 4,000 emails from just one complaint

Anna Villette. Screenshot Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel Tuesday, 7 November 2023. Image: LDRS

Observations raised over five years by a member of the public into the running of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner have resulted in over 4,000 emails, a meeting heard.

The Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel held an Extraordinary Meeting yesterday (7 November) to debate the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (OPCC) response to some of the questions raised by this member of the public.

The OPCC chief executive, Anna Villette, said that she has to consider how the OPCC responds to the legislation around transparency within the public sector.

“That is not to say that I won’t entertain legitimate concerns where people raise areas of activity that more than irked them,” she said.

“[And] just because people don’t agree with the way that I might be running things and the decisions that I might make.

“[It] doesn’t mean that I am wrong,” she said.

“But I wanted to give you an idea of how the volume of concerns and criticisms that come in the impact that that has on the Office.

“So there are 4,006 emails on the system [which have been] generated as a result of just one complainant or member of the public between 2018 and 2023.

“1,419 have been sent in directly either to the force or to the OPCC, so that’s 237 each year,” she said.

Ms Villette added that the total included messages sent to members of the local authorities and other bodies.

Adding that with a “conservative estimate” of one hour per email it would take one person working full-time for two years to deal with these emails.

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“We do our very best to make sure that they are responded to,” she said

“I did a random selection of emails from that time period and I pulled out 20 random emails that total 548 pages.

“In amongst that bundle are a lot of criticisms and a lot of observations.

“There are things in there where this member of the public is absolutely right.

“I’m grateful for that [feedback] because it’s an extra pair of eyes,” she said.

Councillor Gareth Mackey (Central Bedfordshire Council) said he was a believer that there’s “sometimes no smoke without fire”.

“I’m just wondering to what degree the history [of this] has resulted in the position that we’re in the moment,” he asked.

Ms Villette replied: “If I look back through this sample and other areas of concern that have been raised, what I would say is that now there is more transparency than ever before in the OPCC.

“We put more into the public domain than we have ever put before,” she said.

“I would really like to engage with this member of the public so that we could agree some rules of engagement, if nothing else, and where those areas of real concern lay and what I can do [about then].

“It is always easier to do in a face-to-face conversation than it is via an email trail which is not a rich communication tool by any means,” she said.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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