Concerns have been raised about how effectively Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner is held to account.

Across the country, the work of the all elected Police and Crime Commissioners is scrutinised locally by police and crime panels.

But last week – when the Hertfordshire panel met to scrutinise the commissioner’s annual budget – half of the 14-strong panel were absent.

Cllr Colin Woodward – the county council’s representative on the police and crime panel ­— told the county council’s community safety and waste management cabinet panel on Monday he had been “disappointed” by the turnout.

And he also pointed to a low turnout at a pre-budget meeting scheduled for panel members in January.

Now he plans to write to police and crime panel chairman Cllr Siobhan Monaghan to outline his concerns.

“It was very disappointing about representation at the meeting,” said Cllr Woodward.

“The members of the panel were almost out-numbered by the Police and Crime Commissioner. And five districts were not represented at all.”

Those concerns were echoed by Cllr Terry Hone, executive member for community safety and waste management.

Cllr Hone said: “This panel should scrutinise the police and crime commissioner.

“If those people invited from the district and boroughs choose not to go along, is it an appropriate use of time? Or something the chair needs to take up seriously with the districts and boroughs and anyone else who is supposed to go?”

Liberal Democrat councillor Barbara Gibson said: “I wonder, is the panel going to review its make-up and what may be wrong and what may need to change to make it a more effective and more engaged group?”

Earlier in the same meeting the Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd had expressed his own concerns – highlighting the ‘inquorate’ budget meeting.

In particular be pointed to the absence of members from North Herts and Three Rivers councils – who, he said, had not sent apologies.

It was suggested at the meeting that it may have clashed with a meeting of North Herts full council – and that other members may also have had clashes with other meetings.

Following the meeting, police and crime panel chairman Cllr Monaghan – who had apologised in advance for not being able to attend the budget meeting –  said she understood the points that Cllr Woodward was making.

However she stressed that she was “comfortable” with the number of members that were able to attend the meeting and with the decisions that were made.

She said that all 14 panel members had had sufficient time and detail to scrutinise the commissioner’s proposals.

And, she said, that had they had any concerns or questions they could have raised them in writing or directly with her in advance.

Cllr Monaghan, who is a member of Broxbourne Borough Council, said that as chair she was keen to ensure all members of the panel understood the importance and responsibility of the role.

And she said she would be discussing the issues raised with members of the panel at a later date.

Editor's note: After this story was published, Three Rivers Council disputed the claim that its representative, Cllr Andrew Scarth, had not offered an apology for his absence and had provided evidence to show this.

In response, Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd said: “I was not specifically singling out any one member of the Police and Crime Panel. It is good to hear that Andrew had given his apologies, which is characteristic of his polite and professional approach. However the fact remains that the meeting was inquorate, which is frustrating both for him and the people of Hertfordshire."