People will no longer have to attend meetings in person to put questions to the county's police and crime commissioner.

But in practice, panel chairman Cllr Tim Hutchings has admitted, it is “very rare” for members of the public to turn up.

So now residents will be allowed to submit questions in writing, without having to travel across the county to attend the meetings.

Answers will then be highlighted at the meeting, whether the questioners are in the room or not.

They will also be published on the Panel’s website.

Cllr Hutchings – who is a member of Broxbourne Council and Hertfordshire County Council – hopes it will increase public involvement.

“Ever since the panel has existed it has been a challenge to get the public involved and to ask questions,” he said.

“This is an attempt to encourage people to send in questions – even if they won’t attend the meeting itself.

“If they can send in written questions they won’t have to travel across the county to do so – and we and the commissioner can come up with considered responses, which can be posted on the website.

“In terms of getting the public involved this isn’t a panacea, but it is an attempt to make it easier.”

The decision was taken at a meeting of the police and crime panel on November 15.

The next meeting of the panel is scheduled for January 31. Written questions must be received seven days in advance and can be sent to