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Retail view on PCCs

The very low turnout at the recent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections has led some to question the whole localism agenda. Is localism stillborn, and is it worth engaging with Police and Crime Commissioners? James Lowman, Chief Executive of the retail trade body ACS (Association of Convenience Stores) blogs.

Firstly, I think localism has had a slow start, but I don’t think it’s dead. Until people see the impact of new posts like PCCs, it is difficult to really understand what they will do and how they can affect your life and business. Therefore it’s hardly surprising that the first PCC elections haven’t captured the imagination.

But even if you disagree, I don’t think it follows that localism isn’t relevant any more or that it isn’t working. Perhaps the bigger issue is that PCCs aren’t really local. They exist at the level of big cities and counties – basically police force areas. For a local shop, and for many local people, that doesn’t resonate. What’s matters to our members is their parade, village or estate.

Onto my second question, I would advise retailers – whether they voted in the elections or not – to work with their PCCs to develop their Police and Crime Plans. The direction of the policies they set in their Police and Crime Plans is hugely important because it could affect the attitude of the police to alcohol licensing, neighbourhood policing, response times for retail crime, anti-social behaviour and the use of Fixed Penalty Notices among other operational decisions. Do you want to passively accept whatever policies are developed, or wouldn’t you rather seek to pro-actively influence them?

However, that’s not to say that PCCs should suddenly become the focus of your work to tackle crime in communities. Start at the most local level, with your beat police officer or PCSO – form a llrelationship, get to know them, and explain your exact challenges to them. We hear countless examples of this approach really working, with real local problems like disorder around stores late at night being tackled by working together.

Don’t ignore PCCs, but more importantly don’t forget to build the local relationships that can make a difference to your business every day.


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