May blocks bid to hire new chief ahead of election

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North Yorkshire’s next permanent Chief Constable will be picked by an elected commissioner after Home Secretary Theresa May blocked a bid by the county’s police authority to hire a replacement for outgoing officer Grahame Maxwell.

The authority asked the Government before Christmas for approval to appoint a successor to Mr Maxwell on a contract until November 2014, but learned yesterday that the request had been turned down.

It means the force faces yet more uncertainty after the Chief Constable leaves in May. His contract is not being renewed after he admitted gross misconduct following an investigation into nepotism allegations.

Whoever wins the North Yorkshire police commissioner election in November will pick a permanent chief, but the authority must find someone to lead the force in the interim.

One option could be to ask the force’s current Deputy Chief Constable, Tim Madgwick, to take on the role in a temporary or acting capacity, but he would be one of the country’s least experienced top officers, having only been appointed deputy on a permanent basis last month.

He did hold the deputy position temporarily, however, following the retirement in February last year of Mr Maxwell’s former understudy, Adam Briggs.

The authority could also look to fill the vacancy by appointing temporarily a senior officer from another force or police body.

A third option of allowing the Mr Maxwell to remain in the role is understood to be unlikely.

The Home Office’s decision was welcomed by the Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon, Julian Smith, who called on Mr Maxwell to resign last May.

Mr Smith said: “It is important that there is strong leadership of the North Yorkshire Police force and I hope that the plans they look at will be much more temporary.”

The authority issued a statement which read: “North Yorkshire Police Authority has been formally informed that its application to the Home Secretary for approval to appoint substantively to the post of Chief Constable until November 2014 has been denied.

“The authority will now consider remaining options for the filling of this position when it becomes vacant.”