We have a new Police overlord in the socialist utopia of Teesside.

Barry Coppinger took charge as PCC following the elections in November. Surprisingly his first act was to sack the previous Chief exec of the Police Authority, Stuart Pudney. Who was brought in on £90,000 per year contract to help with the mess Cleveland found themselves in when the Chief Constable, the deputy Chief constable and the Authority Chairman were all arrested as part of investigations into corruption.

In his place he immediately appointed Ed Chicken whose vast experience as executive member for community safety at Middlesbrough council was obtained working with, surprise, surprise, Barry Coppinger.

Anyway. This week Coppinger has to meet the Cleveland Police and Crime Panel at Stockton Council. As part of this there are written submissions explaining his actions so far. You can read them here…

It’s interesting to see his reasoning. His report includes…

To consider the appointment of a Chief Executive by the Police and Crime Commissioner, further to the requirement of, Schedule 1, paragraph 9.

I actually looked this up.

It reads

Scrutiny of senior appointments

9(1)A police and crime commissioner must notify the relevant police and crime panel of each proposed appointment by the commissioner of—

(a)the commissioner’s chief executive,

What Commissioner Coppinger fails to note is that under para 10 of the same schedule

10(1)This paragraph applies if a police and crime panel is notified under paragraph 9 of a proposed senior appointment.
(2)The panel must review the proposed senior appointment.
(3)The panel must make a report to the commissioner on the proposed senior appointment.
(4)The report must include a recommendation to the police and crime commissioner as to whether or not the candidate should be appointed.

So the proposed appointment should have been scrutinised by the panels, a report delivered back to commissioner as to whether he could go ahead, and only then was he in a position to appoint his buddy. It would appear that in the first paragraph of his first report he has already broken the rules to continue in the fine Cleveland tradition of giving jobs to mates…

It will be interesting to see if the Panel hold him to account over this, given that it effectively dilutes their authority.

Next….

Following the election result on Friday 16th November, it was necessary to consider, very quickly and carefully, what staffing would be needed both to signal change, and to achieve my manifesto commitments in the context of very considerable public expectation.

No period of finding out what the Police in Cleveland actually need, but straight in with what does he need to fulfil his political agenda…

So having dismissed the Police Authority chief exec summarily, he then details the criteria upon which his Buddy was hired.

1)   Ability to complement my own experience and background.

2)   Shared values in respect of the role of the police service and its accountability to the community.

3)   Considerable experience of community safety and partnership/wider criminal justice landscape.

4)   Understanding of operating within a directly elected individual model environment.

5)   Ability to begin immediately

Obviously you can’t find these anywhere as crass as a job advert, as the post was not advertised. Given that he was appointed within days of Commissioner Coppinger taking over I find it hard to believe that anyone had anything as dull as an interview, and as has been seen already there was no scrutiny as required by the panels.

He then waxes lyrical for some time about buddy Ed’s accomplishments at Middlesbrough Council on each of the criteria. How he pioneered “talking CCTV”, how he “requires the support that this experience brings, to enable me to translate my manifesto commitments into action. I have worked with him for over 10 years and so know that we can work together successfully without risk.” – basically confessing he is not up to the job without his buddy to see him through, and is incapable of forming professional working relationships?

His last justification for Buddy Ed is very telling…

Finally it is important to explain why I felt it essential to have a person I can rely on totally, in place from day one of my term of office; even though this meant displacing the Chief Executive of the former Police Authority. I do not wish to be critical of the former post holder but the post I have filled is different, its scope is far broader. It could be argued that the former post holder could develop and adapt – but time is pressing and there was too much risk associated with that approach. I am only too well aware that I must make some very significant decisions very quickly. The budget position is pressing and a restructure is needed that matches available resources to my priorities. A plan must be produced which you expect to see in January and a Chief Constable must be recruited. I therefore felt that the course of action I took was the only practical way forward. Indeed it is a very common approach taken by politicians entering office at a senior level.

Or to you and me, I wanted my buddy in the job regardless of the previous holder, and wanted it done fast so no-one could argue.

Commissioner Coppinger has already been criticised int he press for this action, but he defended this stating

all contracts would be honoured and pledged there would be no “net cost increase” to taxpayers linked to the appointment of Mr Chicken.

Really? So taxpayers aren’t continuing to pay Mr Pudneys contract which he is rightly entitled to? Or we aren’t paying the taxes to Middlesbrough Council to cover Buddy Ed’s wages whilst on secondment? Or are Middlesbrough council simply doing without an executive member for community safety whilst Buddy Ed is away? Because if they can manage without him for that long, you have to question whether they actually need one at all?

So is he really justified?

Was the previous Chief exec really unsuited for the role?

Stuart Pudney has been chief executive of North Yorkshire, he’d also worked in trading standards and according to the Authority he brought “a wealth of experience in regulatory services, the police and local government”. Considering he was already in position, and continues to be paid by Cleveland Police we can assume he was ready to start work.

So it would appear that that only one of Commissioner Coppingers criteria that he may fail on is

“Ability to complement my own experience and background”

Or in other words, Commissioner Coppinger was not prepared to work with him.

So, back to the report. The commissioner finishes with a flourish…

The role of PCC is designed to be decisive, to cut bureaucracy, and to provide clear accountability. I believe that my actions have demonstrated this

If by that he means take decisions without correct oversight or process, hire cronies over qualified and experienced personnel without proper appointment processes and generally wallow in the mire of corruption and malfeasance that Cleveland Police Senior levels seem determined to cover themselves in.

Could be an interesting first meeting. It should be. I’m guessing it won’t be though.

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