An internal candidate looks set to be chosen as Humberside Police’s new Chief Constable after being unanimously chosen by a selection panel.
Grimsby-born Lee Freeman, who has been Temporary Deputy Chief Constable since the announcement of Justine Curran’s retirement from the force, was one of three applicants for the £130,291-to-£159,244 post.
It was announced yesterday by police and crime commissioner Keith Hunter that Mr Freeman had been chosen as the preferred candidate for the Chief Constable role, though this will not be confirmed until a confirmation hearing next month.
In the interim period, he will assume command of the force, with Garry Forsyth reverting to his previous role as Deputy Chief Constable with immediate effect after a spell in temporary charge.
The vacancy triggered by Justine Curran’s decision in February to retire early had to be re-advertised after initially only attracting one suitable candidate.
Ms Curran announced she was retiring in February after being asked to consider her position by Mr Hunter just before the publication of a critical report on the force by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.
Inspectors rated the force “inadequate” for protecting vulnerable people, while overall its effectiveness was judged as requiring improvement for the second year running. Its efficiency also is rated as “requires improvement.”
Mr Hunter said: “I am delighted that the selection procedure to identify my preferred candidate for Chief Constable of Humberside Police has concluded with Lee Freeman being unanimously approved as being a suitable and strong candidate for the role by a very experienced panel of interviewers.
“I will put forward Lee as the preferred candidate to the Police and Crime Panel with a recommendation for them to approve the selection, that meeting will take place in June.
“The Chair of the Police and Crime Panel was an observer throughout the final selection process but until the selection can be considered by the whole Panel, and the report by an independent member of the selection panel is considered, I will not make further comment so as not to undermine the important role of oversight the Police and Crime Panel have to play.
“Due to the current circumstances in the senior leadership team of Humberside Police, and wishing to establish a new normality at the earliest time to encourage stability and the best circumstances for the continuing development of the Force, I have appointed Lee Freeman as Temporary Chief Constable from today.
“This has been done in consultation and agreement with Garry Forsyth who will revert to Deputy Chief Constable. I would like to pay tribute to Garry who, at short notice, stepped in to the Chief’s role to see the force through the period following the departure of Justine Curran and has performed admirably.
“Although there has been an unavoidable period of uncertainty in the force following the departure of Justine, I am of the firm belief that the force is being positioned to allow it to significantly improve over the coming years and the selection of Lee Freeman is a key event in that transition.”
Mr Freeman was appointed as Humberside Police’s Assistant Chief Constable in May 2015. Prior to that he had served with neighbouring Lincolnshire Police.
The small number of applicants for the Chief Constable position continues a trend identified last year by the Home Affairs Select Committee, who said police and crime commissioners (PCCs) “have a duty to ensure that there is a sufficient pool of candidates for chief officer posts”.
The only person who applied to be West Yorkshire Police’s £176,000-a-year Chief Constable was the senior officer who had already been doing the job on a temporary basis for two years.