PCC appoints 'buddy' as deputy but rejects cronyism claims

By Ian Dipple Thursday 13 December 2012 Updated: 14/12 11:13

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THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia has rejected claims of 'cronyism' after confirming the appointment of his former election campaign manager as his deputy.

Bill Longmore was savaged by councillors on the newly-formed Police and Crime Panel for proposing Barrie Sheldon as his assistant 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 Mr Longmore has chosen to press ahead with the appointment and not consider other candidates in a more open selection process, which the PCP had called for.

Mr Longmore hit back at claims of cronyism while pointing out the law allowed commissioners to directly appoint a deputy without going through a selection process.

He added while he had worked with Mr Sheldon during his time with Staffordshire Police, he had not seen him for 28 years and only got back in touch with him six months ago when campaigning for the role of PCC.

“I have carefully considered the Police and Crime Panel’s report outlining their recommendations about my proposal to appoint Barrie as Deputy PCC. I have taken these on board however I remain confident Barrie’s qualities will complement those I bring to the PCC Office,” he said.

“Barrie’s role will be vital to assist me to discharge the major responsibilities the Government has set.

“West Mercia is a huge geographical 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.

“Barrie was a senior lecturer in policing, criminal justice, and terrorism at Teeside University and was responsible for the professional development of police officers in West Mercia and elsewhere."

“I can reassure residents of West Mercia 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.”

PCP members had warned his appointment would damage public confidence in the new role.

But Mr Sheldon said: “I believe my vast amount of experience in education and the police service will be helpful on many levels, including engaging with local people, controlling budgets and helping set police priorities.”

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