‘Independent voices’ appointed to strengthen public scrutiny of policing on Merseyside

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has appointed four independent members to sit on her Scrutiny Panel examining how the Chief Constable maintains an effective and efficient police service for our region.

The new independent Panel members will take it in turns to attend quarterly meetings alongside Emily Spurrell, asking questions on behalf of the public of Merseyside, scrutinising the work of Chief Constable Serena Kennedy and playing a vital role in further increasing oversight and transparency.

The new independent panel members – Bisi Osundeko, Gary Bennett, John Weise, and Chris Shaw – were appointed following an open recruitment process, which saw the Commissioner invite applications from all of Merseyside’s diverse communities.

Remaining independent from both her office and the police, the emphasis was to find people with effective communication skills, the ability to negotiate and influence whilst remaining empathetic to the views of others, providing an independent voice on behalf of the communities of Merseyside.

The new independent members attended the last Scrutiny Meeting held in March to observe proceedings and they will take it in turns to attend future meetings starting at the next Scrutiny Panel on Monday 19 June.

The members will also provide an independent voice at other meetings the PCC hosts, including her Victims Programme Board which reviews how Merseyside Police supports victims.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said, “Police scrutiny matters.“Recent high-profile cases and national reports have had a significant impact on the public’s trust and confidence in policing nationally, making the need for strong and effective oversight and governance more important than ever. “I’ve made transparency and accountability a cornerstone of my Police and Crime Plan. My Scrutiny Meetings are already live-streamed and recorded and include questions submitted in advance by the public.

“By appointing four independent members who will take it in turn to sit on my public Scrutiny Meetings with the Chief Constable, as well as other oversight committees, I want to reassure the public that here in Merseyside, policing is accountable, it’s transparent and it’s open to scrutiny.

“Bisi, Gary, John and Chris all have unique experiences and expertise which will be invaluable in helping me to represent the public’s views and scrutinise the work of the Chief Constable and her senior team, providing an extra layer of transparency and openness to police oversight here in Merseyside.”

New independent panel member Bisi Osundeko said, “I’m really passionate about speaking for others, especially people who are from minoritised backgrounds.

“I felt like this was an opportunity for me to be able to bring my voice to support the PCC in her role, ensuring that the right questions are asked in terms of how she scrutinises the Chief Constable.”

Independent Scrutiny Panel member John Weise added, “In the last ten years I’ve been involved in the Local Safeguarding Children’s Partnership. I’m looking forward to bringing the skills I use to help support the work that these committees do.”

Panel members will be required to attend a minimum of three meetings per quarter for briefings and to attend Scrutiny Meetings. They will be renumerated £216 for a sitting of more than four hours and £108 for less than four hours, as well as provided with expenses.

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