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Is This A Good Use Of Public Money? You Decide

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Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived a Police and Crime Commissioner.

As part of Crime Commissioning duties he dcided to invest some of his budget in a private company.

An innovative new company has been set-up by the PCC in conjunction with local prisons, with the aim of reducing re-offending, rehabilitating offenders and helping victims of crime.

The PCC has provided an interest-free loan to establish a company which will sell goods made within prisons, to the public. It is hoped that the company will help improve perceptions to would-be employers, by showing to both industry and the public that offenders are capable of delivering high quality products, and a good & reliable service.

Profits from the company will be re-invested into things like crime prevention measures and other rehabilitation programmes for offenders. The company will be run entirely independently of the OPCC, although a representative from the PCC’s office will sit on a board of six company directors – among representatives for the prisons, manufacturing, finance & governance, justice/charity and the community.

So far, so good?

I was intrigued by this project and I had heard rumours that sums of money up to £100,000 had been invested in it, so I wanted to find out more about its potential to be successful.

I asked the PCC’s Office;

How much of the Commissioner’s funds have been invested/donated in/to this private company?

How many retail outlets are confirmed as selling their products?

How much profit has, to date, been redirected towards preventing reoffending?

Three perfectly reasonable questions as it is Public Money we are talking about.

The answer to Question 1 was £37,000.

Question 2. 

The OPCC does not hold this information at this time. XXXXXXXX  XXXXXXX is a company limited by guarantee and not subject to FOI. Under the terms of the Grant it is due to report on its progress on 7 April 2016. 

Question 3.  As above 

As a member of the public I find it astounding that the lender (i.e. The PCC) does not know how many retail outlets have been confirmed as selling the products and also that no early, interim or provisional profit estimates are available.

So, I ask the question, Is this a good use of Public Money? Should the Public be concerned by the absence of update information, or is this normal?  Should the PCC be using his resources in this manner, setting up a private company with an Interest Free Loan?

Answers on a Postcard please.

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  1. Gordon Williamson

    Alan couldn’t agree more with you on this.
    Distinct lack of transparency, does not bode well!
    Got to agree with Jan Wilson also.
    Seem very direct and straightforward and has a background that would give good insight to what’s going on.
    Was never happy with the whole PCC concept, which I think is flawed and this does nothing to dissuade me from that opinion.

    • Alan

      Agreed Gordon, ANY use of public money should be fully accounted for and transparent or we can have no confidence whatsoever with those in charge of the purse strings. Even if the £37k figure is correct and not the £10k, it IS public money and not to be used on Interest Free Loans to fund a private company

  2. Jan Wilson

    Its public money that pays the PCC’s office so anyone should be entitled under the FOI to know what money is being spent where.
    Disgusting and thats why i did not cast any for a PCC in Cheshire last time , no one bothered to come round to canvas or tell us what their ambitions for the role was. Talk about jobs for the boys – look at ours profile
    My background is policing and public service. I am a former Assistant Chief Constable and was a cabinet member for three years on Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council until it became a part of Cheshire East in 2009. I have also run my own business and I’m a trustee to a number of local charities.

    Next PCC elections due in May and still stony silence from any candidates in Cheshire – Pure Parasites in Office.

    • Alan

      Thank you Jan, if your opinion isn’t valid then nobody’s is. I couldn’t agree more. Why risk public funds in such a risky venture?

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