Since writing about Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) appointing friends to well remunerated jobs last week, the press has been full of reports about more PCCs appointing deputies and assistants. In many instances the only qualification there seems to be is you have to be a friend of the PCC you are about to work for. Whilst many PCCs don’t feel they need a deputy (such as Ann Barnes in Kent and Sir Clive Loader in Leicestershire) others appear to have gone on a taxpayer-funded recruitment drive, building up an empire around them.
One PCC I referred to was Adam Simmonds from Northamptonshire. I noted he had appointed four assistants, each earning £65K per annum. He denies he is empire building, even though under the old police authority there were seven members of staff which he intends to increase to seventeen. Ironically, one of his new appointments is a value for money officer!
I also mentioned Humberside, which covers the area where I live in East Yorkshire. The new PCC is Matthew Grove, an East Riding of Yorkshire councillor. He has decided to appoint his friend and fellow councillor, Paul Robinson, as deputy. In a bizarre turn of events, Mr Grove stated in the Yorkshire Post that he wasn’t the best man for the job.
When the issue of police and crime commissioner came up I didn’t actually consider myself as the first person I would put forward; I actually wanted Paul to be the police and crime commissioner and spent a lot of months trying to push Paul to stand as the Conservative candidate, so he was my first choice as PCC.
Is he saying Mr Robinson should be appointed deputy because he really should have had the top job? It would appear so, and since giving that quote he has been unavailable for comment!
On Wednesday the Police and Crime Panel (PCP) held a meeting and decided to hold Mr Robinson’s confirmation hearing on Friday 21 December at 1.00pm. On BBC Look North, PCP chairman, David Rudd (who is also another Conservative East Riding councillor) said the panel had quite a few concerns, and those concerns have been brought forward by our leader of the council and other people within the community of the Humberside policing area. He went on to say the panel did not have any doubts about Mr Robinson’s competence, but what they were concerned about was whether he would have time to fulfil the role. Presumably he was referring to the fact that Mr Robinson is insisting on remaining an East Riding councillor whilst working as the Deputy PCC.
The PCP is made of up representatives from the four local authorities that make up the Humberside policing area: North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire, East Riding of Yorkshire (ERYC) and Hull. When Mr Rudd referred to our leader, he was referring to the leader of ERYC, Stephen Parnaby, who said on BBC Radio Humberside last week that Mr Robinson should resign as a councillor.
The PCP chairman is supposed to be neutral, however in a quote to the Yorkshire Post yesterday, Mr Rudd gave up on all appearances of neutrality. “We have an election in three and a half years and we don’t want to offer meat and drink to the opposition parties,” he said, and further raised the issue of cronyism.
Trying to find out information from both the PCC’s office and from the PCP is like pulling teeth. If the public is to have trust in PCCs, and the PCPs which hold them to account, they must be open and transparent. Unfortunately, the following message on the transparency page of Matthew Grove’s website sums it up: this page is under construction!