VOLUNTEERS from across South Gloucestershire are being called upon to help police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens monitor the use of police powers.

The new scrutiny of police powers panel, will act as a ‘critical friend’ to the PCC and the constabulary by providing organisational learning and feedback on the use of police powers, with focus on the likes of the use of tasers, stop and search, body worn video and the use of force by the police.

Residents from across the force area are invited to become part of the panel of at least 10 members, with the PCC keen to ensure that a diverse array communities from the area are represented.

Ms Mountstevens said: “During my time as PCC I have heard from local people about incidences where police powers have been used.

“Young people who aren’t clear why the police used the force they did, mothers whose sons have been stopped and searched and individuals who have been tasered.

“However on many of these occasions, it was not understood why the police used the powers they did.

“My vision for this new panel is to invite people in to monitor how the police are using their discretionary powers and ensure they are using them proportionately and fairly.

“We all have a right to be treated equally and with respect and this is no different when it comes to interactions with the police.

“I also hope the panel will give local people a better understanding of police powers and when and why they are used.”

Panel members are expected to attend quarterly meetings to review a sample of files and footage on the use of police powers. They will then produce a report of their findings which they submit to the PCC for oversight, and to the police for a response.

Both the panel’s findings and the Constabulary’s response will then be published on the PCC’s website. Training will be provided for all panel members and travel expenses will be paid.

Ms Mountstevens added: “I’ve always been clear that local people have a right to know how their police service works, ensuring the highest levels of openness and transparency.

“As your police and crime commissioner, it’s important that not only are your views represented in policing, but that local people trust and have confidence in their police service and I believe this new panel will help in delivering this.”

For more information about the Scrutiny of Police Powers Panel or to apply visit www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk