Nottingham City Council is calling on the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police to reverse his decision to scrap the city division – or face legal action.
The council’s lawyers have issued a letter before action to Chief Constable Chris Eyre and Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping setting out arguments for a judicial review of the decision.
The letter outlines how, from a year after the city division was introduced to now, crimes have fallen from 75,000 to 30,000. It states that this success is in large part down to geographically-focused policing, a Divisional Commander for the city and closer working with the council – arrangements which have received national recognition.
Despite the Neighbourhood Policing model which sees council officers working alongside police officers – strengthened through a move to Byron House this year – outgoing Chief Constable Chris Eyre took the decision without giving the council any opportunity to comment on the re-design of local policing which will affect its residents.
When the City Council undertook its own survey on the move, 82% agreed it was important to have a senior police officer in charge of the city, 63% agreed that the move poses a risk to the progress that’s been made over the past ten years in reducing crime and 58% said they wanted to be consulted about it.
The council also believes the move flies in the face of assurances that were provided about no changes to the policing structure in Nottingham being taken before the summer.
The letter states: “The unilateral action taken without due consultation and without engaging with partners inevitably undermines the council’s confidence in a Chief Constable and his team that state in clear terms one thing to partners and then do something completely different, contrary to those terms. The unlawful failings are damaging to the partnership relationship and to the collaboration that would best serve the interests of the public and the taxpayers.”
The council has given notice of its intention to seek a judicial review due to the Chief Constable’s failure to consult, breaching the legitimate expectation to consult before taking a final decision and breaching a statutory duty to take account of the impact the move might have on particular groups of people.
The letter calls for the decision to be reversed and for proper consideration and consultation to be undertaken before any changes are made. Replies are sought from Mr Eyre and Mr Tipping by June 23 after which the council could instigate legal proceedings.
Councillor Nicola Heaton, City Council Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “In our view, doing away with the city division is a significant, strategic change in the way Nottingham is policed which goes beyond the operational decisions that a Chief Constable can take on their own. We feel this is a retrograde step which could have a damaging effect on city policing which we have been playing an increasing and effective part in over the last decade.
“Given that we and others had voiced concerns about such a move, and that we had been given reassurances that no action was going to be taken immediately before consultation was undertaken, as well as the likely impact it will have on the safe running of the city, we believe there are grounds for a judicial review of the Chief Constable’s decision.
“There are duties which the Chief Constable must perform which we believe have been overlooked in taking this decision, and as a council we also have duties to perform which we feel we can’t properly carry out when we are left in the dark about such decisions.”