WMCA sceptic Ainsworth joins West Midlands police commissioner’s top team
A shake-up of his top team by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson contained two big surprises – the appointment of former office trainee Ashley Bertie as an assistant PCC, and former Labour Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth as a member of the strategic policing and crime board.
Mr Ashley, aged just 24, had been employed as Mr Jamieson’s research assistant and is thought to be one of the youngest assistant police commissioners in the country.
For veteran politician Mr Ainsworth, his appointment represents a return to public life after standing down as the long-serving MP for Coventry North-east at the 2015 General Election.
Mr Ainsworth remains an implacable opponent of Coventry council’s membership of the West Midlands Combined Authority and has spoken out on social media against the powers that an elected metro mayor will inherit from 2017.
He would prefer to see Coventry and Warwickshire councils working together as a combined authority rather than falling under the influence of Birmingham, although that option appears to have disappeared after Warwickshire county council decided to join North Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth and Stratford-on-Avon councils as non-constituent members of WMCA.
It is thought likely that Mr Jamieson will become deputy metro mayor in 2017, enabling him to continue in his role as West Midlands’ police commissioner. He may also take on powers to oversee West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service.
Mr Jamieson appointed two assistant police and crime commissioners. Dudley Labour councillor Judy Foster will join Mr Bertie in a joint role.
He decided not to appoint a deputy police and crime commissioner, a role vacated by Birmingham city councillor Yvonne Mosquito last month. Cllr Mosquito’s deputy PCC contract came to an end and was not renewed. An independent panel ruled that an unannounced visit she made to the family of teenage shooting victim Kenichi Phillips amounted to serious misconduct.
Cllr Mosquito’s £65,000 salary will be split between Mr Bertie and Cllr Foster.
Mr Jamieson said the new strategic policing and crime board reflected the diversity and different parts of the West Midlands with representatives from the Black Country, Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull.
There are six new board members including Sandwell councillor Liam Preece, Birmingham GP Dr Sarah Marwick and former Lunar Society chair and Waheed Saleem.
Four board members have been re-appointed, including assistant PCC Judy Foster, former senior police officer Cath Hannon and former Birmingham Liberal Democrat councillor Ernie Hendricks.
Mr Jamieson said:
This is a heavyweight board, with a mix of experience and youth that is also representative of the West Midlands’ diverse communities.
It is a real boost for me that I have been able to attract such a high-quality team. They will greatly help me in holding West Midlands Police to account.
I am extremely happy to be bringing in a big-hitter like Bob Ainsworth onto the board. He was an excellent Coventry MP who always stood up for his constituents but also has a wealth of experience at the very highest levels of government and brought in crucial initiatives such as the European Arrest Warrant.
I have made a particular point of standing up for young people. Younger people are both more likely to be victims of crime and sadly more likely to be perpetrators: that is why I am proud to be appointing two people under 25 – Ashley Bertie and Liam Preece – to bring in fresh perspectives and represent their peers.
Ashley has previously led from within my office on Stop and Search and helped bring about big reductions in disproportionality and improve confidence in the practice. I am looking forward to Ashley bringing that same determination and fresh perspective that he brought to Stop and Search to other areas of work to drive improvements and increase confidence across a wide area of issues.
Commenting on his appointment as an assistant PCC, Mr Bertie said:
I am passionate about the West Midlands being a safer place and helping West Midlands Police build trust and confidence in the force.
In my previous role I worked closely with West Midlands Police to bring about improvements in the use of Stop and Search and in particular to drive down disproportionality, I will apply the same drive to my work as assistant police and crime commissioner.
The West Midlands is one of the youngest regions in Europe and the Commissioner needs strong voices in his top team that reflect that and are in touch with the concerns and aspirations of younger people.
Mr Ainsworth said:
I am looking forward to this role and hope to make a big contribution to public service in the West Midlands. Our police service is all the better for being accountable and with the other members of the board I shall seek to make it even more so. I will also be a voice from the Coventry area in our deliberations on the commissioner’s board.
Assistant police and crime commissioners and strategic policing and crime board members will be on 12-month contracts.
The new strategic policing and crime board line-up is Bob Ainsworth, Brendan Connor, Cath Hannon, Ernie Hendricks, Gurinder Josan,Dr Sarah Marwick, Cllr Liam Preece and Waheed Saleem.
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