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‘It’s far too easy to sack the chief constable’, warns Commissioner Jones

‘It’s far too easy to sack the chief constable’, warns Commissioner Jones

🕔01.Jul 2013

newbobIt is unclear whether Chris Sims should be concerned or not, but West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones is stressing about the power he has to sack under-performing chief constables.

Commissioner Jones has warned that by allowing politicians like him to hire and fire the likes of Mr Sims the government runs the risk that “personality clashes” will motivate change in force leadership rather than any sound evidence that chief constables are not up to the job.

Mr Jones, a former Labour councillor, suggests rather cynically that the requirement of commissioners to seek a public mandate for re-election every four years might “drive leadership decisions rather than proper longer term professional considerations for the benefit of the public”.

His comments are made on the West Mids PCC Facebook page, in a well-argued article which is another shot in a campaign to end the “politicised” PCC systemand bring back the former police authority, of which Mr Jones was a longstanding member.

He makes the point that in pre-PCC days it was extremely difficult to sack chief constables and that disciplinary action could only be taken by the police authority after consulting Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC). Now, Commissioners have no links with HMIPC and if they want to dispense with the services of a chief constable can easily do so as has happened in Gwent, Avon and Somerset and Lincolnshire.

While not commenting on individual police forces, Mr Jones notes that: “As always in such cases, it is not only about justice being done but, as these decisions are played out in a public arena, that justice is seen to be done.

“The legislative framework put in place by this government makes this a challenge and one that does no favours for either chief constables or police and crime commissioners. “

He suggests that the rules underpinning police commissioners lend themselves to undue tension.

“The new system is designed to deliberately bring in a head to head system.  With this comes the inherent  risk of the perception that personality clashes will motivate change in force leadership or that re-election needs drive leadership decisions rather than proper longer term professional considerations for the benefit of the public.”

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