Our constitution

1) Constitution and Legal Status

1.1 The organisation shall be known as the National Rural Crime Network [NRCN] [“the Network”]

1.2 The Network shall be eligible for membership to those organisations concerned with tackling and preventing crime occurring in rural communities and those agencies responsible for enforcement. The Executive Board will decide if an application to join the Network will be agreed to.* Police and Crime Commissioners are able to join the Network as of right.

* Explanatory note – applications for membership of the Network will only be approved by the Executive Board where an applicant or organisation can demonstrate that they are fully committed to overall objectives of the NRCN in reducing and preventing all forms of rural crime. This will be further defined in a Standing Order.

1.3 In addition to any full members, the Network shall also be open to applications from other suitable organisations to become ‘associate members’, in accordance with the prescribed Standing Orders and subject to the formal approval of the Executive Board. Associate members commit to working in partnership with the Network, supporting the objectives as set out in the Network’s agreed Constitution, Terms of Reference and Standing Orders, providing such assistance, advice and contributions as they are able and at their absolute discretion. They shall not be under any financial or legal obligations that may arise in relation to the liabilities of the Network at Dissolution and are not to be considered as part of any Incorporated Body should the Network become one, unless they specifically state otherwise in writing.

Associate members shall not be permitted to have full voting rights in accordance with this Constitution but shall be invited to and be able to attend meetings to contribute to and take part in discussions.

1.4 The Network will act in a non-party-political way concentrating on achieving consensus views on rural best practice and service interests in respect of responding to crime in rural areas and affecting rural populations.

1.5 At least initially the Network will not be an Incorporated Body. It will therefore not directly employ any staff or have a Bank account or hold any assets

1.6 Nothing in this Constitution will prevent the Network from becoming an Incorporated Not for Dividend Body if the membership at an Annual Meeting or an Extra Ordinary General Meeting convened for the purpose decides so to do.

2) Objects/Purpose of the Network

The objectives of the National Rural Crime Network are defined as:-

  • To act as a multi-agency think tank on rural crime strategy.
  • To encourage and support the activities of those involved in making rural communities across England and Wales become and feel safer, as well as assisting them in the protection and preservation of heritage assets and their settings.
  • Provide information and support for rural communities by promoting and facilitating the sharing of good practice.
  • To develop and target good publicity to encourage stronger local response from the public in relation to reducing crime in rural communities.
  • To encourage regional fora and facilitate a national forum for discussions between relevant rural partners and appropriate national organisations and watch groups on rural crime issues.
  • To act as a forum to consider effective Community Safety Initiatives across rural areas.

NB: The National Rural Crime Network is concerned with the occurrence and fear of all crime affecting rural communities. This includes wildlife, heritage and other crimes which impact on individuals, a community, property, environment and/or the quality of life in rural areas. The NRCN is committed to improving the response to those challenges. Until an agreed national definition of rural crime is promoted and universally accepted this definition will be used to focus and prioritise the NRCN’s activities.

The full Terms of Reference of the Network are appended to this Constitution. 

3) Powers 

In furtherance of the Purpose of the Network but not otherwise the Network shall have the following powers:-

(a)       To raise funds and to invite and receive contributions and gifts of property from any person or persons whatsoever by way of subscription, donation, demise, bequest, grants in aid and otherwise provided that the Network shall not undertake any permanent trading activity other than for the purpose of raising funds for its objectives.

(b)       To take such steps by personal or written appeals, public meetings or otherwise as may seem expedient for the purpose of promoting the interests of or procuring contributions to the funds of the Network

(c)        To raise money for the objects of the Network on such terms and (with such consents as are required by law) on such security as may be thought fit and to execute and issue such security as the Network shall think fit.

(d)       To give grants, gifts, awards and other financial assistance in furtherance of any of the objects of the Network, on such security as may be thought fit (with such consents as are required by law).

(e)       To subscribe to charities and voluntary organisations and to make grants for any purpose consistent with the Network’s objects.

(f)        To establish, promote, support, co-operate or amalgamate with any other association, society or body having objects wholly or in part similar to those of the Network and to acquire or dispose of any property asset, liabilities and engagements necessary to give effect to any such establishment, promotion, support, co-operation or amalgamation.

(g)       To co-operate and enter into arrangements or joint ventures international, national, regional, sub-regional or local with any authorities or national agencies.

(h)       To hold exhibitions, meetings, lectures, seminars and courses either alone or with others.

(i)         To cause to be written and printed, published or otherwise reproduced, issued and circulated any newspapers, periodicals, books, leaflets, reports, articles, research reports or other documents.

(j)         To retain or engage and pay professional or technical advisers or employees or self- employed contractors or consultancy organisations and to pay reasonable and proper fees for their services.

(k)        To do all such other lawful things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of any of the Network’s objects.

4) The Annual Meeting

4.1 The Network will meet at an Annual Meeting to appoint the office holders

4.2 The Annual Meeting will convene towards the end of each calendar year to approve the accounts of the Network, agree the budget of the Network, to set any annual service charges and approve the work programme. Other meetings may be held during the year as required to deal with other such business and performance issues as may be required by the Executive Board.

4.3 The Network will make Standing Orders at its first Annual Meeting to  regulate  the Network’s proceedings and these will be reviewed every 2 years.

5) The Executive Board

5.1 The Executive Board will consist of up to 6 Police and Crime Commissioners, who are members of the Network (or their nominated representatives). The Executive Board will also comprise of 4 other representatives drawn from other member organisations of the Network. Any meeting of the Executive Board will be deemed quorate provided that a minimum ratio equivalent of 6 Police and Crime Commissioner representatives to 4 other member organisations is maintained (i.e 3:2 or 2:1).  The Rural Services Network will act as the Network’s secretariat, facilitating all its meetings and hosting the Network’s website and knowledge hub.

5.2 The Executive Board shall provide strategic direction and conduct the normal day to day work of the Network apart from the work delegated to the Network’s secretariat and other officers.

5.3 The Annual meeting shall determine the Terms of Reference, delegated powers, size and composition of the Executive Board subject to a maximum of 10 members. Standing Orders will be made and agreed for the regulation of their proceedings.

5.4 The Chair of the Network from time to time shall be Chair of the Executive Board.

6) Voting at Meetings

6.1 Each member organisation will be entitled to cast one vote at all meetings on occasions when it is decided to proceed by a vote and a decision cannot be reached by consensus (which will be usual practice).

6.2 In the event of an equality of votes the Chairman of the meeting shall have the casting vote.

6.3 A member may nominate another representative of any member organisation to attend a meeting on their behalf and exercise his or her vote provided that written notice of this intent is provided to the secretariat of the Network by the member or someone authorised to act in this way on behalf of the member’s organisation. Notices should be provided in most circumstances at least 3 days prior to the meeting by email. In exceptional unforeseen circumstances this notification can be made by telephone.

7) Office Holders

7.1 The Annual meeting of the Network shall each year appoint from amongst its member organisations’ representatives, the following office holders:-

  1. a) A Chairman
  2. b) A Vice-Chairman

7.2 The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Network shall act to achieve continuity of overall operation and also hold the same office in relation to the Executive.

7.3 Voting on all appointments shall be as follows:-

Where there are more than two persons nominated for each position, and of the votes given there is not a majority in favour of one person, the name of the person having the least number of votes shall be struck off the list and a fresh vote taken, and so on, until a majority of votes is given in favour of one person.

7.4 The Chairman and in their absence the Vice Chairman, shall have the following responsibilities:

  1. a) To promote the Network as a whole;
  2. b) To uphold and promote the purposes of the Constitution and to interpret the Constitution where necessary;
  3. c) To preside over meetings so that its business can be carried out efficiently; and
  4. d) To ensure meetings are a forum for the debate of matters of common interest.
  5. e) To act as the spokesperson of the Network

7.5 The Chair and Vice Chair will hold office until:

  1. a) The next Annual meeting of the Network
  2. b) They resign from office; or
  3. c) They are no longer employed by the member organisation they represent on the Network; or
  4. d) They are removed from office by resolution.

7.6 In the event that a Chairman ceases to be the Chairman by virtue of clause 7.5 above, the Network shall forthwith appoint a new Chairman of the Network and pending the appointment of the new Chair all powers and functions of the Chairman will be vested in the Vice-Chairman.

7.7 The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Network shall be members of the Executive Board.

7.8 The Vice Chairman shall take a lead role in relation to overseeing the financial arrangements of the Network on behalf of the Executive Board. 

8) Responsibility for Action

8.1 In matters of relevance to the Network’s own work programme or which concern all member organisations of the Network, the Network may speak for all its member organisations. The Network however cannot commit their individual member organisations to any particular course of action or to support or not support any particular policy decision.

9) Meetings of the Network and Executive

9.1 Meetings of the Network and Executive shall be held on such days and at such places as may be decided by the Executive.

9.2 The Secretariat shall ensure:

  1. a) Not less than 28 clear days before each ordinary meeting, including any Extra Ordinary Annual Meetings of the Network and not less than two months before the Annual Meeting, there shall be posted on the Network’s website a notice stating the date time and place of the meeting; and
  2. b) Not less than 10 working days before the meeting send to each member organisation by email and agenda specifying the business to be transacted.

10) Nominated Officers and Staff

  1. 1 The Secretariat for the Network and its services to its members will be supplied by the Rural Services Network via a Service Level Agreement approved each year by the Executive Board. The reasonable costs of this support will be specified in each annual budget and be borne through the revenue generated through membership service charges. It is not envisaged that the Network will directly employ staff.

11) Finance

11.1 The Executive Board shall submit for consideration to the Annual Meeting of the Network in each year a statement of estimated expenditure for the year commencing on the following first day of April. The Executive Board shall have delegated authority to vary the budget within the financial year as necessary – subject to report to the next full Network meeting.

11.2 The service charges for each year commencing on the 1st of April shall be the rates to be determined from time to time by the Network and those rates shall vary having consideration to the running costs involved.

11.3 Unless a member of the Network is acting as the Accountable Body in respect of any funding secured and that accounts for the whole of the income and expenditure of the Network in any financial year, the Secretariat shall be responsible for the preparation of an Income and Expenditure Account each year for the preparation of Company Accounts by professional tax accountants and the submission of those accounts to the Network and for the purposes of external audit.

11.4 The income and property of the Network shall be applied solely towards the promotion of the Network’s objectives.

11.5 The costs of attendance travel and subsistence in connection with meetings of the Network shall be met by the individual member’s organisation.

11.6 An annual report shall be prepared for the Network membership’s consideration and scrutiny at the Annual General Meeting. This report will include a financial summary of the Network’s position and activities over the previous year.

12) Resignation of Member Organisations

12.1 A member organisation wishing to terminate its membership shall give not less than six months’ notice in writing to the Secretariat to expire on 31 March each year.

12.2 Any member organisation shall, on ceasing to be a member of the Network, forfeit all right to and claims upon the Network and its property and funds, and without prejudice to the Clause 14 relating to Dissolution below, shall pay such amount representing the member organisation’s share of responsibility towards liabilities incurred by the Network on behalf of member organisations, including payments due to contractors, during the currency of the organisation’s membership, such share to be calculated having regard to the proportion which the subscription paid by that organisation bears to the total annual subscription of the Network from its members in total.

13) Dissolution

13.1 A motion for dissolution of the Network must be notified in advance as an agenda item for the Annual meeting or an Extraordinary General Meeting.

13.2 A motion for dissolution shall require a formal majority of at least two thirds of members present with at least two thirds of such member organisations represented at the meeting, or through a postal vote procedure authorised by an Annual Meeting decision outlined under the procedures in clause 16 below.

13.3 In the event that the Network’s funds should prove to be insufficient to discharge its liabilities member organisations shall contribute such additional sum as is required to collectively eliminate the deficiency pro-rata to the level of their subscription. The Network shall not authorise any expenditure or otherwise incur liabilities which they through the lead member do not already have funds for.

13.4 In the event of a dispute between a member or a former member organisation and the Network as to the amount which the organisation should contribute under this rule the matter shall be referred to arbitration.

13.5 The arbitration shall be conducted in accordance with the Arbitration Rules of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Arbitrator shall be asked to determine the extent to which an organisation or organisations should contribute and to determine the matter in accordance with what is fair in all the circumstances. In the event that the Arbitrator issues a determination providing that a member or former member organisation is liable to contribute a specified sum under this rule the organisation shall pay the monies which the Arbitrator determines it ought to pay within sixty days of the issue of the award. The Arbitrator shall be appointed by agreement of the Chief Executive and Corporate Director of the Rural Services Network as the Secretariat or in default of such agreement by the President for the time being of the Law Society.

14) Amendment to the Constitution

14.1 The Annual Meeting (or an Extraordinary General Meeting convened for the purpose) shall have power to amend this Constitution:

  1. a) Save that no amendments may be made to articles 12.4 (income and property) and 13.1 (terminating membership) and purported amendments to those articles shall not be effective; and
  2. b) Provided that a motion in favour of each such amendment shall be passed by at least two thirds of members present and if necessary through the following additional procedures:

Where two thirds of those present vote for an amendment but less than two thirds of member organisations are present, then the amendment shall be put to a postal ballot of the membership. The amendment shall be carried if it receives the support of at least two thirds of the ballot papers returned.

15) Urgent Decisions

15.1 The Chair in consultation with the Vice Chair may take a decision which is a matter of urgency and is not delegated to officers. However, the decision may only be taken:

  1. a) It is not practical to convene a quorate meeting of the Executive
  2. b) If the Chair of the Network agrees that the decision is a matter of urgency.

16.2 The reasons why it is not practical to convene a quorate meeting of the Executive and the consent of the Chair to the decision being taken as a matter of urgency must be noted on the record of the decision. Following the decision the Chair will provide a full report to the next meeting of the Network or Executive explaining the decision, the reason for it and why the decision was treated as a matter of urgency.

Nick Payne
24 June 2014