Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Removal of Gwent Chief Constable may be only the start.

The election of Police and Crime Commissionaires  last year was always going to lead to territorial disputes  between the PCC with his or her Chief Constable. Now we have the case of Carmel Napier former Cheif Constable of Gwent Police who was ordered to retire "or be removed" from Gwent Police after a series of rows with Ian Johnston.
She said the government needed to look into whether PCCs' powers were compromising police independence.
Mr Johnston had criticised her management style and said the relationship "was never going to work."
He has  when is memorandum was leaked to the South Wales Argus said:
On 23rd May 2013, during our meeting, I raised my concerns about a number of issues. These were outlined in a memorandum. Subsequently Mrs Napier took the decision to retire, which I accepted. Had Mrs Napier not made the decision to retire, I intended to take the matter further, which may have resulted in her being asked to leave the force.
“I will be moving to appoint a new Chief Constable as soon as practicable to provide stability and leadership for the force. In the meantime I will work with the temporary Chief Constable Jeff Farrar, to provide a police service for Gwent which is excellent in every way.”

South Wales Argus 11th June 2013

In her own statement after it be came clear she had not retired voluntarily , Mrs Napier, who had been in policing for 30 years, released a strongly-worded statement on Tuesday evening making it clear that the timing of her retirement was not of her choosing.
She insisted that chief constables accepted the role PCCs play in holding senior police officers to account for the quality of services they deliver.
But she raised concerns about whether the power PCCs have to call for chief constables to retire or resign "adequately protects the independence of operating policing in England and Wales".
She called on the UK government to look into the legislation surrounding the elected role, which was brought in by the Conservatives last year amid much opposition from Labour politicians.
Ian Johnson is not a former  Chief Constable of British Transport Police. He became Chief Constable on 1 May 2001 , Before that he held senior post in Kent and the Metropolitan Police.
So this looks like a tterritorial dispute rather than a political one.
But it raises concerns .
  • How can Chief Constables carry out their function when their position is dependent on the relationship between them and the PCC and who may change after an election?
  • Will we see a PCC sacking Chief Constables because they are too Liberal or right wing and do not fit in with the PC stance on Immigrants for example?
  • Will we see sacked/Retired Chief Constables standing against their former PCC at the next election and will this divert us from the actual issues.

There is something wrong here. It does appear that the PCC  has to much power to sack people and perhaps they need to get some kind of approval  from the Home Office or in a Welsh case from a Minister of the Assembly when and If such powers are devolved,

I was and still am opposed to PCC . It leads to the danger of politicising the police . It does not look that this is the case here  but it looks like the position of Chief Constable have been undermined and that does not bode well.for the future.

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