'Ask the Commissioner' follows the success of 'Ask the Police' and will support public communication with PCCs

On 15th November 2012, the public across England and Wales will elect Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs). The newly created role will replace Police Authorities, as part of the Coalition government's effort to make Police Forces more accountable to the public whilst they continue to deliver efficient and effective policing.

PNLD and technology partner, PDMS (the partnership responsible for the successful Ask The Police websites, launched 2005), have developed a new web portal - Ask The Commissioner - which provides nationally consistent answers to over 100 of the public's most frequently asked questions about Police and Crime Commissioners.

Helping Police and Crime Commissioners answer the public's policing questions

Despite the president of ACPO describing the creation of PCCs as the biggest change to policing since 1829 and the elections being just 46 days away, a recent poll* has revealed that 73% of those questioned did not know anything about the elections, (of women polled this figure rose to 82%). As the elections approach, it is expected that the public will want to learn more about the role of the Police and Crime commissioner (PCC) and how their new Commissioner will represent them and their communities. 77% of households in England and Wales are now online; when questions arise, the internet is now the first place most people search for answers. The existing AskThePolice websites have proved the popularity of this format.

Ask the Commissioner

Benefit to the public in England and Wales

The new Ask the Commissioner portal contains nationally-consistent answers to the 100 most frequently asked questions about the new role of Commissioners, which can easily be searched by the public. The site also allows Police and Crime Commissioners to upload more in-depth information which is specific to their region, meaning that users (members of the public) can begin their search for information by selecting their local force. Answers can also be searched alphabetically and by category. If a user can't find the answer they're looking for, they can submit a question to be answered.

Cost effective, timely technical delivery

PNLD is run as a not-for-profit organization and so the new FAQ portal had to be cost effective. PDMS were able to base the Ask the Commissioner website on the existing Ask the Police platform, re-using the underlying technology. This meant that development was extremely cost effective and had the added advantage of making the development and launch time extremely quick, ahead of the PCC elections in November.

By implementing one central national database, using PDMS' FoundationsTM platform, it is expected that PNLD, through the Ask the Commissioner website, will save valuable frontline resources.

Inclusion on the AsktheCommissioner website is offered to PCCs as a managed service, which includes;

  • Hosting, licensing, maintenance and support of the website
  • Updating the frequently asked questions and answers
  • Answering more specific emailed questions and answers
  • Providing statistics to highlight areas of concern for the public