Humberside Police Commissioner Matthew Grove has defended his decision to defy a watchdog by appointing a close political ally as his deputy, and said he wants to be judged on his results.
But Mr Grove is facing a fresh barrage of criticism after appointing fellow East Riding Conservative councillor Paul Robinson as his deputy, a week after the panel that was set up to scrutinise the commissioner voted eight to one to reject him.
The appointment, which will see Coun Robinson top up his £45,000 deputy’s salary with the East Riding councillor’s allowance of £10,711, drew allegations of “cronyism” and calls for him to resign his council seat over a potential conflict of interest when it was announced earlier this month.
Coun Grove, who earns £75,000 as commissioner, intends to give up his seat, but Coun Robinson intends to see out his four-term as Howdenshire ward councillor.
Coun Grove said he and his deputy still represented savings to tax-payers compared to the £205,000 paid last year to the 17-member police authority they replaced.
He said: “What I would also say is nine members of the police and crime panel were former members of the police authority, so they don’t come without their own interests and beliefs. I think the police authority members think they have an automatic right to be the deputy and I don’t agree with them.
“I think the police authority were very good and very effective at taking money out of the pockets of tax payers but they were less effective at bringing about the changes we need to make to reduce crime. With violent crime and sexual crime, the most serious crimes we face, the performance is completely unacceptable.
“What I wanted to bring in was somebody who has the energy and commitment to deliver my promises to the people of this area.”
He added: “People can challenge me on process but what I’m interested in is results. I know this decision I have made, I’m not expecting everybody to jump up and down and cheer, but it enables me to deliver the promises I have made to the public.”
However, Colin Inglis, a Hull Labour councillor, panel member, and a former chairman of the police authority, hit back, saying: “This was the police authority that presided over falling crime rates for 10 years, which like the commissioner, had no responsibility for operational policing, so I presume he’s having a go at the chief constable.
“Everything he’s done so far smacks of inexperience and panic. His decision is not a surprise because he’s clearly desperate to cling onto any lifebelt he can get his hands on.
“One thing he should perhaps have taken more notice of was the fact that the panel has been fighting like rats in a sack and yet only one person voted to support his choice; we were at one on this and we don’t have a lot in common otherwise.”
He added: “The big issue is just rampant cronyism. The worrying thing is that given he’s already displayed a propensity to pick ‘yes men’, the next big choice he has to make is to pick a chief constable and that is one thing the panel does have a veto on.
“If he picks a ‘yes man’ I am sure the panel will act appropriately. We are not scared of upsetting Mr Grove. I think the big message was Robinson wasn’t up to the job and we didn’t think Grove was either.”
Panel chairman and East Riding Conservative councillor David Rudd said: “It would probably have been better if he’d appointed someone from the south bank (of the Humber).
“We’ve got two people from the north bank from the same party, the party I am proud to represent, and at the end of the day it doesn’t look quite right. I can understand people’s concerns.”
Liberal Democrat panel member Mike Ross said: “In terms of working with the panel, I think it’s fair to say it’s going to make it a more difficult relationship than it might have been otherwise.”