Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived a Police and Crime Commissioner.
As part of Crime Commissioning duties he dcided to invest some of his budget in a private company.
An innovative new company has been set-up by the PCC in conjunction with local prisons, with the aim of reducing re-offending, rehabilitating offenders and helping victims of crime.
The PCC has provided an interest-free loan to establish a company which will sell goods made within prisons, to the public. It is hoped that the company will help improve perceptions to would-be employers, by showing to both industry and the public that offenders are capable of delivering high quality products, and a good & reliable service.
Profits from the company will be re-invested into things like crime prevention measures and other rehabilitation programmes for offenders. The company will be run entirely independently of the OPCC, although a representative from the PCCâ€™s office will sit on a board of six company directors â€“ among representatives for the prisons, manufacturing, finance & governance, justice/charity and the community.
So far, so good?
I was intrigued by this project and I had heard rumours that sums of money up to Â£100,000 had been invested in it, so I wanted to find out more about its potential to be successful.
I asked the PCCâ€™s Office;
How much of the Commissionerâ€™s funds have been invested/donated in/to this private company?
How many retail outlets are confirmed as selling their products?
How much profit has, to date, been redirected towards preventing reoffending?
Three perfectly reasonable questions as it is Public Money we are talking about.
The answer to Question 1 was Â£37,000.
The OPCC does not hold this information at this time. XXXXXXXX Â XXXXXXX is a company limited by guarantee and not subject to FOI. Under the terms of the Grant it is due to report on its progress on 7 April 2016.Â
Question 3. Â As aboveÂ
As a member of the public I find it astounding that the lender (i.e. The PCC) does not know how many retail outlets have been confirmed as selling the products and also that no early, interim or provisional profit estimates are available.
So, I ask the question, Is this a good use of Public Money? Should the Public be concerned by the absence of update information, or is this normal? Â Should the PCC be using his resources in this manner, setting up a private company with an Interest Free Loan?
Answers on a Postcard please.