YP Comment: Misconceptions over removal process for chief constable

Former chief constable David Crompton. (PA).
Former chief constable David Crompton. (PA).
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From: Sir Thomas Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary

Your article ‘The three words that cost South Yorkshire’s police chief his job’ (The Yorkshire Post, September 30) contains several misconceptions on the parts of Lord Blunkett and Clive Betts MP.

The statutory process for the forced removal of a chief constable contains important checks and balances to ensure fairness.

One of those protections requires the police and crime commissioner (PCC) first to say why he intends to fire the chief, and then to get the opinion of the chief inspector of constabulary on it.

It is up to the PCC to decide his reasons; and it is those reasons alone on which I must give my view.

In this case, the PCC intends to remove the chief for three words in a Press release.

If the PCC wishes to enlarge or change the basis for firing the chief, he needs to start the process again. In this case, he hasn’t.

Your article quotes Lord Blunkett as saying that I am acting as an advocate for Mr Crompton, the chief.

I am doing no such thing. My role is to provide an independent and objective view on the PCC’s plan to remove the chief. That is what I have done.

Simply because I have criticised the PCC’s plans does not make me an advocate for anything but fairness.

Lord Blunkett says I was unaware of the facts of this case. He is mistaken. The facts on which I have relied are those given to me by the PCC.

Lord Blunkett says that others disagree with me. That may be so, although I would urge all concerned to read my reasons before condemning them. They run to 46 pages and are published on www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmic.

It is no part of my task to provide views designed to attract popular opinion. My job is to analyse the case which the PCC makes against the chief, and to make a sound assessment of it. Everyone, including the chief, is entitled to be treated fairly.

Mr Betts’ complaint that HMIC missed certain failures of South Yorkshire Police is unsound.

In 2015, HMIC published several reports about the force, highlighting risks of failure and expressing concerns. However, Mr Betts misses the point.

The PCC is not firing the chief for these failures; he relies on only three words in a Press release.

And those three words do not mean what the PCC says they mean. It is as simple as that.