Police role given green light after ‘crony’ row

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THE appointment of a former Labour Party campaign manager as Deputy Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire has been approved despite opposition groups describing it as “cronyism”.

Isabel Owen was yesterday confirmed in her role working with police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson after members of a scrutiny panel voted in favour of her getting the job.

Ms Owen, who was Mr Burns-Williamson’s election campaign organiser last year and has been working in his office as a consultant, will earn up to £56,571.

The commissioner’s decision to appoint a fellow Labour Party member to the tax payer-funded position has prompted anger.

Last month councillors in Kirklees condemned the decision after a motion put forward by Andrew Marchington, a Liberal Democrat former PCC candidate, who said it “reeks of cronyism”.

Ms Owen, who was born in Halifax but lives in Wakefield, has been campaigns manager for the local Labour Party and had a senior role at a debt advice charity.

She told a meeting of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel her role would mainly involve managing the “external affairs” of the commissioner’s office and providing “high level support”.

She said: “I will be providing political advice but I will also provide a lot of advice that is not political.”

Ms Owen defended her suitability for the role after one councillor questioned whether she had any experience relevant to policing.

Two members of the Labour-dominated panel, which was created to scrutinise the Police Commissioner, voted against the appointment and one abstained.

Ms Owen said after the meeting that the Commissioner needed someone who “shares his vision and values” in the deputy role.

But Tory Les Carter, who voted against the move, said: “She is a political adviser full stop.”