Police boss hits back at 'cronyism' claims

By Ian Dipple Monday 10 December 2012 Updated: 11/12 09:16

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THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia has hit back at claims of 'cronyism' over the planned appointment of his election campaign manager as his assistant.

Bill Longmore was savaged by councillors on the newly-formed Police and Crime Panel for proposing Barrie Sheldon as his deputy on a £50,000 salary.

They accused the former police officer of appointing his 'buddy' without going through a proper process and recommended he reconsider.

But in a direct appeal to residents across the force area, Mr Longmore has defended the announcement, insisting the appointment is necessary and pointing out the law allows the commissioner to directly appoint a deputy without needing to go through a selection process.

"I am aware the appointment of Deputy PCCs is a controversial issue nationally but I have no doubt that one is vital to assist me to discharge the major responsibilities that the Government has set, as do a considerable number of other PCCs. These responsibilities, to be achieved in a very short space of time, include producing the policing plan and working with the Chief Constable to set the precept (police's portion of the Council Tax)," he said.

"Barrie was a University Lecturer in policing, providing police training services at Teeside University. He had been a junior colleague of mine in the Police Force over thirty years ago, but for some 28 years I have had no dealings with him. It was only around six months ago that I contacted him to assist in my election campaign. I was extremely impressed with the job that he did and subsequently invited him to act as my Deputy. Also, like me, he is independent from any political affiliation.

"I continue to have every confidence that Barrie’s expertise will be vital as we move forward and start to seek people’s views and address their concerns about policing in their area.

"West Mercia is a huge area and there is simply no way I could do justice to the one million plus people right across the counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire working on my own. I would reassure residents of West Mercia that I would not make this appointment if I did not feel it was absolutely necessary to ensure I do the best job possible during my time in office."

He also criticised the panel for being slow in producing a report outlining its recommendation on the proposed appointment, as required by law.

"I am disappointed that I have not yet received their report and I urge the panel to send it to me as a matter of urgency. I am unable, by law, to confirm the appointment of a Deputy PCC until I have considered their report."

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