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Police Reform Act 2002

Section 92: Police authorities to produce three-year strategy plans

438.This section amends the 1996 Act, requiring police authorities to produce, every three years, a plan that sets out the strategic direction and focus for the force area. The purpose of the plan is to focus on the medium to longer term direction of the force, which is often not possible in the annual plans that they already produce. It should be developed in consultation with the community and should highlight future developments required for the effective policing of the force area, taking into account local circumstances and proposed national initiatives.

439.Subsection (1) inserts a new section 6A in the 1996 Act. New section 6A(1) requires the production of a new three-year strategy plan by police authorities.

440.New section 6A(2) says that the first draft of the strategy plan is to be prepared for the police authority by the chief officer of the force area.

441.New section 6A(5) refers to the new annual National Policing Plan, which is introduced by section 1 of this Act. It requires a police authority or chief officer, in issuing, preparing or modifying the strategy plan, to have regard to the National Policing Plan currently in force. Consequently, and also in view of the possibility of local changes, new section 6A(4) makes provision for the police authority to amend the strategy plan during its three year span.

442.In turn, the three-year strategy plan will inform the subordinate plans already required of police authorities. New section 6A(13) ensures that this is the case for the best value plan required under section 6 of the Local Government Act 1999. Similarly, subsection (2) ensures that this is the case for the local policing plan required under section 8 of the 1996 Act. Subsection (3) requires that the police authority’s annual report, provided for under section 9 of the 1996 Act, assesses the extent to which the strategy plan has been implemented.

443.New section 6A(3) requires the chief officer to have regard to the views of the public in the force area before he submits the first draft of the strategy plan. These are to be obtained in accordance with the procedures already in place under section 96 of the 1996 Act, which requires police authorities to make arrangements for, amongst other things, obtaining the views of the people in the force area about matters concerning the policing of the area.

444.New section 6A(6) says that the Secretary of State must issue (and can revise) guidance on the form and content of the strategy plans, to which police authorities and chief officers must have regard. Before issuing or revising such guidance, the Secretary of State must consult those whom he considers represent the interests of police authorities and chief officers of police. Where this formulation occurs in existing legislation, the Secretary of State currently consults the APA and ACPO and/or CPOSA. The Secretary of State may also consult anyone else he chooses (new section 6A(7)).

445.Before the plan, or any amendment to it, is finalised, the police authority is required to submit it to the Secretary of State (new section 6A(8)). If the Secretary of State concludes that the proposed plan, or any modification to it, is inconsistent with the National Policing Plan, he must inform the police authority of his conclusions, having first consulted the relevant authority and chief officer and persons whom he considers represent the interests of police authorities and chief officers of police as a whole (new sections 6A(10) and (11)). New section 6A(9) provides that plans should be published and a copy sent to the Secretary of State.

446.New section 6A(12) ensures that the police authority consults with the chief officer before altering a three-year strategy plan in any way.

447.New section 6A(14) provides that the procedure for submitting plans and the start date of the first set of strategy plans will be set out by regulations made by statutory instrument. The period to be covered by the first strategy plan may be less than three years to enable the planning periods for police authority plans to be aligned with those for Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships.

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