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7 Key Tips for Police & Crime Commissioners: Get Better at Engaging the Public

Capture the imagination of local people.
On 2 May 2024, elections took place for 37 police and crime commissioners (PCCs) in England and Wales.

You may have missed it because, as recently pointed out by The Consultation Institute, “Until they recently found candidates’ names on the ballot-box, it is fair to suppose that millions of voters may not have much of an idea of what these Commissioners are and what they do. Unlike Mayors, they cannot be said to have captured the imagination of local people.”

However, for those in the know, for a long time the PCCs have had some serious powers and responsibility like:

  • Appointing the chief constable (and removing them, if necessary)
  • Setting the budget
  • Setting local policing priorities

They also must be impartial and remain operationally independent. Over time, their remit has expanded to include responsibility for commissioning most victims’ services and the ability to take on governance of the local fire and rescue service. One of the pivotal tasks established when the roles were first created is to consult on the Annual Policing Plan — something, many argue, they have not been well enough equipped to do so.

So, what is to be done if PCCs are to become more relevant, more engaging, and more consultative, bringing their communities together to make policing more responsive to the needs and aspirations of local people?

Well, here are 7 top tips for PCCs to get better at engaging the public and capture “the imagination of local people.”

  1. Talk in Different Ways. Use a variety of communication channels, including social media, websites, email campaigns, and community forums to reach a diverse audience and ensure information is accessible through preferred channels. This way everyone can hear what is happening.
  2. Be Honest. Transparency is key to fostering trust. Communicate openly about decision-making processes, budget allocations, and performance metrics to demonstrate accountability to the public. It’s important to be honest about what’s going on — like how decisions are made or where money is going — so people trust what you’re doing.
  3. Use the Internet (Properly). Leverage digital engagement platforms, websites, and other digital tools to share information, gather feedback, and engage with a broader audience, including younger demographics who are often active online. Used strategically, the internet is a wonderful way to share information and hear from lots of different people.
  4. Ensure Accessibility. Make sure information and services are accessible to everyone in the community, including those with disabilities or language barriers. This could involve providing translations, offering alternative formats, or hosting events in accessible locations.
  5. Talk Directly to People. Invest in building and nurturing an owned audience through email and dedicated online platforms — build your “owned” subscriber base. This allows PCCs to directly reach and engage with people without relying solely on third-party platforms. This way, they can hear from people in real-time and unfiltered, without needing to go through other organisations.
  6. Do More Than Just Talking. Sometimes it’s not enough to just talk. PCCs can really connect with people and help them feel safer by doing things like walking around neighbourhoods, organising fun events, or instructing people about safety. These outreach activities not only enhance visibility but also allow PCCs to directly address local concerns.
  7. Always Get Better. Ask for feedback regularly, evaluate engagement strategies, and be willing to adapt based on what people say. PCCs should always try to get better at what they do by asking people what they think, trying new things, and changing strategies if they’re not working. And don’t forget to close the loop by telling people how their involvement has made a difference — it’s as simple as, “You Said, We Did, We Couldn’t Do (and here’s why).”

Introducing the Granicus Engagement Cloud

The Granicus Engagement Cloud helps governments undertake meaningful community engagement and connect with the people they serve. Its powerful communications, feedback, and data gathering capabilities enable PCCs to engage residents on the issues that matter to them, providing insights to inform policing priorities, as well as addressing statutory requirements like public consultation on policing plans.

With more than 17 million subscribers on the Granicus network, it has never been easier for PCCs to rapidly grow their audience for a direct, unfiltered line of communication that drives higher engagement and impactful insights.

Ready to raise your game?

Find out more about how Granicus can enable PCCs to get better at engaging the public and capture “the imagination of local people.”

Contact us today