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UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
To be published as HC 67-i
HOUSE OF COMMONS
TAKEN BEFORE THE
Home Affairs Committee
Leadership and Standards in the Police SERVICE
Tuesday 14 May 2013
Mark Burns-Williamson, TIM PASSMORE and ALAN HARDWICK
Peter Box, Patricia O'Brien and Ray WootTen
Evidence heard in Public Questions 337 - 418
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.
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Prospective witnesses may receive this in preparation for any written or oral evidence they may in due course give to the Committee.
Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Tuesday 14 May 2013
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, and Alan Hardwick, Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner, gave evidence.
Q337 Chair: Could I call the Committee to order and ask all Members to declare any additional matters that need to be declared other than are on the Register of Members’ Interests?
Welcome to our witnesses, Commissioners Burns-Williamson, Hardwick and Passmore. This is a one-off session to inform the Committee before we publish our report into the register of interests of police and crime commissioners. We will return to the subject of police and crime commissioners in a more lengthy inquiry that we will have at the end of this year. Thank you all for readily agreeing to come to the Committee to answer our questions.
Could I start with Mr Hardwick and Mr Passmore? As you know, the Committee has conducted a survey among police and crime commissioners concerning their obligations to put online statutory information concerning your financial data. Neither you, Mr Hardwick, nor you, Mr Passmore, have managed to meet the deadline for informing the public about your financial data. Has that now been done, Mr Hardwick?
Alan Hardwick: It has, Mr Chairman, yes.
Q338 Chair: When was that done?
Alan Hardwick: It was done last week.
Chair: Last week?
Alan Hardwick: It was indeed, sir.
Q339 Chair: Thank you. Mr Passmore?
Tim Passmore: The only issues I think you are referring to, Mr Vaz, would be travelling expenses. Those are the only ones. The forms are there ready for mileage. There are no other expenses or other costs incurred by me personally whatsoever.
Chair: But in terms of financial data online, you have now complied with the-
Tim Passmore: Yes. Everything else was done some time ago.
Q340 Chair: Excellent, because the last time we compiled our documentation you had not done so.
Mr Hardwick, if I could start with you and the circumstances surrounding the suspension of your Chief Constable Rhodes. Do you now regret suspending Mr Rhodes?
Alan Hardwick: The situation was that I was convinced I had made the right decision, Mr Chairman, and I remain convinced that I made the right decision.
Q341 Chair: But a judge has described the decision that you took as perverse and irrational-that was by a High Court judge on 28 March. Do you not accept that criticism, and do you not accept, with hindsight, that he should not have been suspended?
Alan Hardwick: I accept entirely the High Court judge’s criticism. The point that was discussed at the judicial review was a very narrow point about interpretation of a particular set of circumstances. My interpretation went one way. The judge’s interpretation went another way. I still maintain that my interpretation was correct. The judge disagreed with me.
Q342 Chair: You said on 30 March that Chief Constable Rhodes’ role as a temporary chief constable was due to end on 31 March and would not be renewed, but on 1 April you announced that Mr Rhodes had got his job back, in effect. Is that right?
Alan Hardwick: That is right, Mr Chairman. I would describe that as a U-turn on my part.
Q343 Chair: As a result of the High Court decision or as a result of any further information you might have received?
Alan Hardwick: As a result of the High Court decision and further discussions.
Q344 Chair: Is it difficult for you as a commissioner to be working with a chief constable who you believe should not be in post?
Alan Hardwick: No, sir, it is not difficult for me. We are both professionals. We have a very good and sound working relationship.
Q345 Chair: If you had your time again would you dismiss or suspend him, as you had previously? You have no doubt that you took the right decision?
Alan Hardwick: I have no doubt, Mr Chairman.
Q346 Chair: But you have come to the conclusion that he should come back because of the decision of the High Court?
Alan Hardwick: I have come to the conclusion that he should return because of the decision of the High Court and other discussions that I have had with learned advisers.
Q347 Chair: When you decided to suspend him, did you then inform the Police and Crime Panel of your decision to suspend him? The Committee is very interested, because we will be hearing later from the panel chairs about the way in which the constitutional process works. We appreciate this is new territory for everybody, including yourself, obviously, because you also do not have a background in policing particularly, but you have a mandate of the people to do the job that you are doing. As soon as you decided to suspend the chief constable, which is a very serious step, did you inform the chair of the Police and Crime Panel, and did you appear before them in order to justify your decision?
Alan Hardwick: I informed the chairman of the panel, Mr Chairman. I did not appear before them.
Q348 Chair: How soon after you made your decision did you inform the chair of the panel?
Alan Hardwick: Would you bear with me one second, Mr Chairman? It was very shortly after I had made the decision. I rang him the same day.
Q349 Chair: You turned around and spoke to somebody. Is that Mr Burch, your chief executive?
Alan Hardwick: It is my chief executive, yes.
Q350 Chair: Was he with you at all times during these events?
Alan Hardwick: He was indeed.
Q351 Chair: Did you appoint him?
Alan Hardwick: Yes, I did indeed.
Q352 Chair: As far as you are concerned, you told the chairman of the panel that you were suspending him. Did you tell the chairman of the panel that you were reinstating him because of the decision of the High Court?
Alan Hardwick: I spoke to the chairman of the panel, and he was aware of my decision to reinstate temporary Chief Constable Rhodes.
Q353 Chair: Have you appeared before the panel to explain the reasons why you took the decision? Obviously you told the chair, but when Parliament set up the process it set up a panel of people to scrutinise the work of the commissioner. Have you appeared before them?
Alan Hardwick: I have not appeared before the panel, Mr Chairman, since the suspension that you spoke of.
Q354 Chair: That was 78 days ago, I understand.
Alan Hardwick: Yes. I have not appeared before the panel.
Q355 Chair: Are you planning to appear before the panel?
Alan Hardwick: I am planning to appear before the panel, Mr Chairman.
Q356 Chair: When are you planning to appear before the panel?
Alan Hardwick: When the panel invite me to appear before them, Mr Chairman.
Q357 Chair: You have not suggested to them that you appear? It is very unusual circumstances for a new commissioner to come in, suspend the chief constable and then reinstate the chief constable. It is important that this explanation is given.
Alan Hardwick: I have spoken to the chairman of the panel, Mr Chairman, and I know that the chairman of the panel will be addressing you shortly.
Q358 Chair: Will he be answering our questions, rather than addressing us?
Alan Hardwick: I think so, sir. I am sure that he will be answering your questions, Mr Vaz, yes. I have spoken to him at many junctures since the suspension, but I have not appeared before the panel.
Q359 Chair: Finally from me, it has cost the taxpayer £50,000 in respect of your High Court case. Who will pay the costs of this? Where will this come from? Will it come from you personally? Will it come from your budget? Where will this money come from? I think you have been ordered by the court, because of the decision they have taken, to pay £50,000 in costs. Is that right?
Alan Hardwick: What you are telling me is news to me, Mr Chairman, but I can answer the question as to where it will come from. It will come from the budget of my own office.
Q360 Chair: So you are not aware of any order for costs? No orders for costs were made?
Alan Hardwick: I am not aware of any sum.
Chair: But are you aware that an order for costs was made?
Alan Hardwick: I am aware that an order for costs was being sought.
Q361 Chair: Where will those costs come from?
Alan Hardwick: They will come from the budget of my own office.
Q362 Chair: What is the budget at the moment?
Alan Hardwick: £450,000 a year, sir.
Q363 Lorraine Fullbrook: Police Commissioner Hardwick, you made this decision after, you said, long consultations with your executive lawyers. Have you changed your legal advisers since?
Alan Hardwick: We have retained other legal advisers. We still employ the legal advisers who were with me at that time.
Q364 Steve McCabe: In your statement that you respected the judge’s decision but you did not agree with his interpretation, you said, "We looked at every possible angle before deciding to suspend Neil Rhodes". Who was "we"? You did not talk to the panel. Who is "we" in this situation? You are elected. Who else was party to this decision?
Alan Hardwick: My chief executive and my legal adviser, sir.
Q365 Chair: Who is your legal adviser?
Alan Hardwick: Do you want me to name the firm, sir?
Alan Hardwick: Andrew & Co.
Q366 Mark Reckless: Mr Hardwick, why did you suspend the chief constable?
Alan Hardwick: Because of the nature of the allegations that had been made and the source of those allegations, sir.
Q367 Mark Reckless: If you do not go any further in describing the nature of the allegations or the basis on which you suspended him, how will it be possible for your electorate to judge your decision?
Alan Hardwick: The details of the suspension are public, sir. I know that the electorate have read the details, have made up their minds and have corresponded with me as to whether I made a good or a bad call.
Q368 Mark Reckless: Are there any personal circumstances between you and the chief constable that others might think could have affected this decision?
Alan Hardwick: No, sir, there are no circumstances at all.
Mark Reckless: Are you sure?
Alan Hardwick: Yes, sir.
Q369 Chair: How long have you known the chief constable?
Alan Hardwick: I worked for the previous police authority, sir, for four years, and I have known him I suppose since I started to work there.
Q370 Chair: Before his suspension, presumably as commissioner you had a number of meetings with him?
Alan Hardwick: Yes, sir.
Q371 Chair: Did you have any disagreements?
Alan Hardwick: None.
Q372 Mark Reckless: Mr Burns-Williamson, perhaps initially, what is your view as to whether it would be possible to do the job of police and crime commissioner while maintaining substantial private business interests?
Mark Burns-Williamson: That is a matter for each individual police and crime commissioner. I have registered all my interests online. They are published. That is a matter for each individual police and crime commissioner in consultation with their office.
Q373 Mark Reckless: You mentioned it was for each police and crime commissioner, but ultimately should it not be for each electorate to judge and that does not require the candidates to disclose their private business interests that they plan to maintain?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Absolutely. I think everything should be published. The idea of a national register is a good one. I would have no problem with that, and indeed the electors should have a view on individual registration of police and crime commissioners.
Q374 Mark Reckless: For the record, what are your private business interests? I think one of the issues the Committee has had is that by not having a national register, it has not necessarily been easy for us to get that information. For the record, could you state what they are?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Yes. It is published on the website. I have minimal interests. I am a trustee of a local heritage group. I stood down as a councillor recently. I have declared that. I would have to double check, but it is minimal in terms of other interests.
Q375 Mark Reckless: Mr Hardwick, what is your view as to the compatibility between being a PCC and having substantial private business interests, by which I mean paid interests for these purposes?
Alan Hardwick: My own experience of working 60 hours a week is that there is just no time for any other job than being police and crime commissioner.
Q376 Mark Reckless: Mr Passmore, what is your view on this issue?
Tim Passmore: I would entirely agree with that. If you have a job like police and crime commissioner, it is frankly a full-time commitment. Clearly it is up to each individual commissioner, depending on what team and what help he has, but in my case in Suffolk it is a very big rural area and it is very time-consuming. I don’t have any other private interests. My interests were put on the website back in early December, I think.
Q377 Mark Reckless: When you say "other private interests", do you mean beyond those listed on the website?
Tim Passmore: No, I do not have any private interests listed. I just put down I was a self-employed person, but I am not doing any other work on that basis anyway and nor have I.
Q378 Chair: Just to clarify that, Mr Passmore, we have you down as being a self-employed agri-business consultant.
Tim Passmore: Yes, that is what I was.
Q379 Chair: You are a member of Mid Suffolk District Council, which presumably you get an allowance for.
Tim Passmore: Yes. I think that is just over £3,000 a year. I am no longer leader, and nor do I have a portfolio. I am merely a backbencher.
Q380 Chair: You are a director of Customer Service Direct; so you do have another paid role, do you?
Tim Passmore: No, that is not a paid role. That is a joint venture with the Mid Suffolk County Council, and I am representing Mid Suffolk on it. It is not a big private concern at all.
Q381 Chair: So you have no other paid employment other than being a commissioner? You get a salary of £65,000?
Tim Passmore: £70,000, that is correct.
Q382 Chair: £70,000. You have no other commercial interests?
Tim Passmore: Yes, that is absolutely correct.
Chair: You have no other commercial interests?
Tim Passmore: No.
Q383 Chair: You do not think it is possible, given the workload? You are on record as saying that you work 40 hours a week as a PCC, plus presumably.
Tim Passmore: I have never said that. I don’t know where you got that from.
Chair: That was when you wrote to us in your survey. We asked you around about how many hours.
Tim Passmore: 40-plus, because that was what was in the book. It is a lot more than that, I can assure you. I don’t know, but it is 60-70 hours a week, definitely.
Q384 Mr Winnick: Pursuing that, Mr Passmore says that his only income is now as a police and crime commissioner.
Tim Passmore: And an allowance from the district council.
Q385 Mr Winnick: Yes. And you, Mr Hardwick?
Alan Hardwick: Sir, my only income is as a police and crime commissioner, plus I have a small private pension from a previous employment.
Mr Winnick: We will not go into details of how much that is. It is not really our business, but that is the lot, is it?
Alan Hardwick: That is the lot, sir, yes.
Q386 Mr Winnick: And you, Mr Burns-Williamson?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Solely the salary of the police and crime commissioner, yes.
Q387 Mr Winnick: Mr Hardwick, again arising from questions put to you by colleagues, do you feel any embarrassment that in the very earliest days of the election of police and crime commissioners, you were in the news for the reasons we have just been dealing with?
Alan Hardwick: Sir, I would rather be in the news for more positive business, absolutely. I am not dodging your question but, yes, had any shade been attached to anything that I was connected with, I would rather that shade had been positive rather than negative.
Q388 Mr Winnick: It probably would not have pleased the Home Secretary and quite likely-again this is a question-your fellow police and crime commissioners that this issue arose in the very earliest days. Would I be right? They would feel embarrassed as well that this came into the news?
Alan Hardwick: I have no idea, sir. I have met them. We do meet occasionally, as you know, as the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners. It has never been referred to.
Q389 Mr Winnick: I see. Well, perhaps they were reluctant to face you on that question. Who knows?
Mr Burns-Williamson, how many people do you have in your office now?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Nineteen that are solely employed by the office of the police and crime commissioner.
Q390 Mr Winnick: Nineteen? We have the information that it is 26. Is that wrong?
Mark Burns-Williamson: No. There are 26 in terms of the totality of staff, but there is an audit team that carry out work for other police and crime commissioners as well. They are not solely employed by me.
Mr Winnick: I am trying to work that out. Is what you are saying in effect that you employ 19 people?
Mark Burns-Williamson: It is 19 people that carry out direct duties in their entirety for me as the police and crime commissioner.
Q391 Mr Winnick: Yes, and who are the other seven?
Mark Burns-Williamson: I think there are nine others as part of an internal audit team that carry out work for West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, Humberside and in fact for the chief constable as well.
Q392 Mr Winnick: They are not paid from your budget?
Mark Burns-Williamson: They are partly paid from the budget, but they generate income from providing those other services.
Q393 Mr Winnick: Yes. Well, there you are. You dispute 26, and you have given the explanation we have just heard. Yet the information we have, if it is correct, is that of your two colleagues here, Mr Hardwick employs eight and Mr Passmore employs nine.
Tim Passmore: That is right; 8.8 full-time equivalents.
Q394 Mr Winnick: Is there so much more work that you feel justified in employing so many more than your two colleagues here?
Mark Burns-Williamson: One has to bear in mind that each police and crime commissioner inherited the staff of the previous police authority on taking post. West Yorkshire is the fourth-largest police force in England and Wales. My overall office costs are less than the police authority. They account for 0.4% of the overall budget, so I am comfortable with the numbers that I have employed in my office, who carry out good work on behalf of me and the public.
Q395 Mr Winnick: Well, you would be confident otherwise you would not employ them. I must say, in all fairness, we have had information of police and crime commissioners employing more than the 19 or 26, as the case may be, in your office. Are you proposing to increase the numbers by any chance?
Mark Burns-Williamson: No, I am not. In fact I made a commitment to the Police and Crime Panel that the costs of the office would reduce in line with the cuts to the police force in West Yorkshire, which will be 30% over a six-year period.
Q396 Mr Winnick: This is an all-party Committee, and sometimes, Mr Burns-Williamson and your two colleagues here, we ask questions of fellow party members because that is our job. You appointed a deputy at the sum of £53,000. Is that correct?
Mark Burns-Williamson: I think it is £56,000 actually.
Mr Winnick: £56,000?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Yes.
Q397 Mr Winnick: What experience did your deputy have in police matters or some other factor that you felt you were justified in appointing her?
Mark Burns-Williamson: As set out in the legislation, as you know, it is an unrestricted political post, and in fact in a meeting with the previous Police Minister, Nick Herbert, he did say that in his view these posts were political adviser posts in all but name. I think that the term "deputy" is somewhat misleading under the way that the legislation is set out. Isabel Owen, whom I have appointed as the deputy, is there to assist me in delivering my job as the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire. She is highly suitable in terms of the criteria that were set out regarding giving political advice, leading on external affairs within the office and making sure that I am fully briefed and able to do my job to the best of my ability.
Q398 Mr Winnick: I am most reluctant to criticise any Labour Party person who gets a position, but I would ask you, Mr Burns-Williamson, would you have appointed anyone other than a Labour person?
Mark Burns-Williamson: No, because I am on record as saying during the debate for this legislation that I would have liked to have seen a joint-ticket election where you had the candidate and the deputy named on the ballot paper so that they could have been directly elected. I had always intended to appoint a deputy.
Q399 Mr Winnick: Did you make that clear when you were campaigning?
Mark Burns-Williamson: I did on the hustings and in public meetings, yes.
Q400 Mr Winnick: What about Mr Hardwick and Mr Passmore? Do you have deputies?
Alan Hardwick: No, sir, I have no deputy.
Mr Winnick: None at all? And you, Mr Passmore?
Tim Passmore: No, and I made it quite clear during the election campaign that I did not see the need for a deputy. However, may I make one very brief comment? I do think it depends on the size and area and the commitment for each police and crime commissioner, because they do vary quite largely, not only in area but also size of the population.
Q401 Chair: Just on the figures so we are right, Mr Passmore, you employ nine people but your total office cost is £1.7 million. That is a 48% increase on the previous police committee.
Tim Passmore: I don’t think those figures that you have are accurate, in fact.
Q402 Chair: Correct us, because those are the figures that have come from your office. How many people do you employ?
Tim Passmore: That is exactly right for the numbers of people, but what I mean is the cost of the office is over £100,000 less than the previous police authority.
Q403 Chair: Are you saying it is less not an increase?
Tim Passmore: Absolutely.
Q404 Chair: But your nine people account for £1.7 million and Mr Burns-Williamson’s 26 people account for £1.73 million.
Tim Passmore: I will have to come back to you with the figures. I agree, there seem to be-
Q405 Chair: Nine people at £1.75 million and 26 people. Is he getting better value for money?
Tim Passmore: Not necessarily. I think you will find that that cost includes my allowance as well, which, as you know, is £70,000. I can provide other information to clarify that, but I can certainly assure you that nobody is being paid any extra. There have been no other appointments at all, and I inherited the police authority staff.
Q406 Chair: It does sound a lot of money for nine people.
Tim Passmore: Well, I inherited it, so that is something we are looking at at the moment.
Q407 Chair: Mr Burns-Williamson, I have no reluctance to put to you, and I have to put to you, the fact that the person you appointed as your deputy, Isabel Owen, was on the selection panel that selected you as a candidate. Is that right?
Mark Burns-Williamson: No, that is totally false.
Q408 Chair: Is she married to the regional director of the Labour Party?
Mark Burns-Williamson: She is, yes.
Q409 Chair: Did you not think in making this first appointment that it was very important to look very carefully at who was appointed to these positions?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Yes, I did, and in fact I did not know Isabel Owen until September-October time last year, so any inference that there was any kind of other motive for this appointment is entirely unfounded. She is someone I think has a lot of ability, and that was evident in the process, which was robust in terms of the appointment panel that I set up to make the appointments.
Q410 Chair: Sure, and you did not know she was married to the regional director of the Labour Party?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Yes, I did, but what I am saying is I only met her last September-October. She demonstrated over that period of time that she is someone very suitable for the post that I had appointed her to.
Q411 Chair: Is it correct that you have appointed another Labour councillor as your research director at £41,000 a year?
Mark Burns-Williamson: I have appointed Henri Murison to the research director post, which was a vacancy. He is a former Labour councillor who worked for a national charity, is a first class degree graduate from Cambridge and someone that applied through the normal process, through the jobcentre. I was not on the appointment panel, but I was told he scored much higher than any other candidate.
Q412 Chair: What the Committee has seen in press cuttings-of course, we have not seen all the commissioners-is that a number of other commissioners have appointed to paid jobs people who were involved in their election campaign. Is this a normal practice for police and crime commissioners? You are clearly not the only one who has done this.
Mark Burns-Williamson: I need to re-emphasise that Henri Murison was appointed through a normal job application process. I was not involved on the panel for that selection.
Q413 Steve McCabe: I just want to clarify this position about the deputy, because obviously it has generated a lot of publicity. Some of it would appear to have been generated by a councillor in Leeds, Councillor Carter, who has certainly got very excited about it. You referred to what the former Police Minister said about the post earlier. Am I right in thinking it is your understanding that the post of deputy is the only politically non-restricted post available and that it was the design of the Home Secretary to create that office, and what you have done is exactly the same as the police and crime commissioners have done in Thames Valley, Sussex, Northamptonshire and Humberside? The only thing that is different about them is that Councillor Carter would support them because he is of the same party as them and not yourself. Is that accurate?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Interestingly, Councillor Carter was my vice-chair of five years at the former police authority. It is a bit rich for him to now suggest that somehow I don’t need a deputy or someone of an opposite political persuasion. Yes, I think you are right with your observation.
Q414 Michael Ellis: Perhaps we can move on from the Labour love-in for a moment and try to make this not quite so nakedly political. Mr Burns-Williamson, the reality is perception is at the nub of this. Do you think it creates a perception that if you had a first class graduate who applied to you who happened to have Conservative interests, they would automatically be disqualified by you because you are appointing basically on the basis of political partisanship?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Not at all. I have already said that the appointment of Henri Murison as the research director was through an open and transparent process to anyone to apply for that post.
Q415 Michael Ellis: You would not disqualify someone in your application process because they happen to have Conservative leanings? If you thought they were a good-quality candidate for reasons of their past employment or their expertise in some area but happened to have previously been a Conservative parliamentary candidate rather than a Labour parliamentary candidate, would you employ them?
Mark Burns-Williamson: It was open to anyone to apply on that basis.
Q416 Michael Ellis: I did not ask you that. It may have been open to anyone, but would you have employed someone if they had been even a Liberal Democrat Party member?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Heaven forbid, Chairman, but if they had applied and scored the highest on the interview process, they would have got the job.
Q417 Michael Ellis: I note what you say about the qualifications for the individual, but it has been said in West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel that your deputy knew little about policing and she was also paid by you as your transition adviser. Is that right?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Yes.
Q418 Michael Ellis: She was involved in your campaign. Is that also correct?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Yes.
Q419 Michael Ellis: She was paid £18,214 to work as your transition adviser since your election?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Yes.
Q420 Michael Ellis: That, coupled with the fact that she was previously a Labour parliamentary candidate, has nothing to do with your appointment of her?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Of course it has, because she demonstrated during that period that she was someone of high ability in providing me with that support and able to do the job of deputy, so absolutely, yes.
Q421 Michael Ellis: But when a Conservative member of your PCP says that he had concerns about her credentials, do you discount that? You say she does have the credentials. Other than simply being close you politically or historically, she has credentials to hold such a position, does she?
Mark Burns-Williamson: She does, and, as I have already said, Councillor Carter was my deputy of five years and he was making, in my view, a party political point.
Michael Ellis: I was referring to somebody called Michael Walls, so I don’t think it is one individual. There is another member of your PCP called Michael Walls who said he had concerns about her credentials.
Mark Burns-Williamson: Another Conservative ex-member of the police authority, yes.
Q422 Michael Ellis: The fact that they are Conservative does not discount the comments that they make, does it, surely?
Chair: Could we just have an answer and then we need to move on? Mr Burns-Williamson?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Mr Walls was agreeing with Councillor Carter.
Q423 Michael Ellis: Just before we do move on, I do not think, with the greatest respect, that one can simply say, from either side of the political divide, just because someone is Labour we discount everything they say if we are Conservative, or just because somebody is Conservative we discount everything they say if it is coming from Labour. Surely you must answer the question as to the issues that are raised by your opponents as to the proper credentials of the individuals that you are hiring. It is public money after all.
Mark Burns-Williamson: Yes, and these credentials were put before the Police and Crime Panel, and the Police and Crime Panel endorsed the appointment.
Q424 Dr Huppert: There are concerns in general about how some of the appointment processes are working. I do not want to go into the details of any particular case. I think it probably permeates all PCCs to a greater or lesser extent. I am quite interested in the idea of some of the transparency issues. I note that today my own police and crime commissioner in Cambridgeshire has finally published his spending of £500 or more, I am sure because he did not want to come and see us next week. It is interesting to see how many different numbers of items there are. I think Cambridgeshire has about 40 items above £500 where I think Suffolk has only 30, almost all of which are audit. There are clearly different standards that seem to be being used around the country and that seems to be the case for a lot of other information. I am sure you will all know that there is a national register of chief officers’ pay and perks, gifts, hospitality, outside interests and media contacts. There is about to be a national register published online of all of that. Given the problems we have just demonstrated with understanding what is happening with all of the PCCs, do you think there should be a similar record of all of that information of a common standard kept nationally for every single PCC?
Alan Hardwick: Yes, sir, I do.
Mark Burns-Williamson: I think I have already said that I have no problem at all with the National Register for Police and Crime Commissioners.
Tim Passmore: I would entirely agree. If it improves transparency and openness, I am 100% behind it.
Q425 Dr Huppert: Fantastic. I think this Committee has been quite strong. Do you know the views of any of your other colleagues? Is there a minority who are quite keen not to see this, or a majority?
Tim Passmore: I have not met anybody who is opposed to it, certainly, and I have not discussed it on that basis with anyone.
Alan Hardwick: I agree with my colleague. I haven’t discussed it at any great length, but I would suspect that there would be an appetite for a national demonstration of openness and transparency.
Q426 Dr Huppert: Are any of you on the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners?
Alan Hardwick: We belong to the association.
Tim Passmore: We all do, yes.
Q427 Dr Huppert: Would you be prepared to raise it at the next meeting and see if they would all sign up for it?
Alan Hardwick: Yes.
Tim Passmore: Yes, definitely.
Dr Huppert: Please let us know the result.
Chair: As you know, the Committee has conducted its own survey, and we will be publishing what we hope will be the forerunner of a national register very shortly.
Q428 Steve McCabe: What is the impediment to the association establishing that? Why don’t you go ahead and do it?
Alan Hardwick: Well, we can. The association is very new, sir, as you know, and we are still finding our feet, I think it is fair to say. The infrastructure of the association I think is sound, and we are going to go forward now with ideas, like the one that you have mentioned, that the Committee is interested in. Indeed, we would be more than interested to hear of any other help that we could give and that you could give us, sir.
Chair: Once we publish, you are welcome to take the idea. I did offer the idea to the Home Secretary, but she did not seem keen to take it. Maybe you can take it and give it a home.
Alan Hardwick: We will do our very best.
Q429 Lorraine Fullbrook: I would like some clarification on an answer given to the Committee and Mr Ellis earlier. Mr Burns-Williamson, you said that you have 19 permanent staff plus the seven audit team that you pay a percentage amount to with other-
Mark Burns-Williamson: I think there are nine in the internal audit team.
Q430 Lorraine Fullbrook: Okay, the nine; the post for Mr Murison was advertised at the jobcentre?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Yes.
Q431 Lorraine Fullbrook: You said to the Committee earlier that you had inherited the 19 from the previous authority?
Mark Burns-Williamson: I inherited most of the staff, yes.
Q432 Lorraine Fullbrook: Was Mr Murison an additional or a replacement position?
Mark Burns-Williamson: It was a vacancy that had been held because the person that used to have the job had gone off on maternity and then decided not to come back.
Lorraine Fullbrook: It was not an additional post; it was a post being filled?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Yes.
Q433 Chair: Finally, we are going to hear now from the chairs of your panels. Could we go through each of you to look at your relationship with the chairs of the panels. Are you a serving councillor with the chair of your panel, Mr Passmore, or is it a different authority?
Tim Passmore: Not in the same district. It is a completely different district.
Chair: Is it a different council?
Tim Passmore: Yes, a different council.
Q434 Chair: Did you know her before you became the commissioner?
Tim Passmore: Mr Vaz, I know a lot of councillors in Suffolk. Yes, I did know her beforehand, as I do many other councillors in Suffolk.
Chair: We are not talking about other councillors. We are just talking about her for the moment. I am sure you know lots and lots of councillors. Did you know her before she was appointed?
Tim Passmore: Yes, I did.
Q435 Chair: How frequently have you appeared before the Police and Crime Panel?
Tim Passmore: I think four times so far since the election.
Q436 Chair: Is that at your request, or is it at their invitation?
Tim Passmore: It is both. We worked out a programme together, and we appointed a new chief constable at the budget. We have informal meetings as well as the formal ones to make sure we are both kept fully informed.
Q437 Chair: Mr Hardwick, we heard from you that you have not appeared before them yet. Is that right?
Alan Hardwick: I have appeared before the panel, Mr Chairman.
Q438 Chair: But not on the issue of the chief constable?
Alan Hardwick: Not on the issue of the chief constable.
Q439 Chair: How many times have you appeared?
Alan Hardwick: I had an informal meeting with the panel, sir, and I have appeared before them to present my police and crime plan.
Q440 Chair: You were not a councillor, unlike the other two gentlemen here.
Alan Hardwick: No.
Q441 Chair: You were a television star and a radio star before you got your job.
Alan Hardwick: I appeared on television and did not appear on radio. I had a good face, I think, for radio.
Q442 Chair: You did not know the chair of your panel, Mr Wootten, before you got the job?
Alan Hardwick: No, I didn’t.
Q443 Chair: Mr Burns-Williamson, the chair of your panel is a councillor in your district. Is that right?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Yes.
Q444 Chair: Is it correct to say that you know him very well?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Yes, I do. He was the leader and still is the leader of Wakefield Council, of which I was a member for 15 years.
Q445 Chair: Is it difficult for you being scrutinised by someone who you know very well and is possibly a friend?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Not particularly, no, because we both have roles and I respect and understand those roles.
Q446 Chair: How many times have you appeared before the Police and Crime Panel?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Six or seven at least already.
Q447 Chair: Is it by your request or their invitation?
Mark Burns-Williamson: It is mainly by their invitation, but we have worked out with the panel a programme of meetings throughout the 12 months.
Q448 Chair: I notice that Mr Hardwick has brought his chief executive with him today. I assume both of you have chief executives, Mr Passmore and Mr Burns-Williamson. Are these people you have inherited or did you appoint them? Mr Passmore?
Tim Passmore: All the team I have are inherited; every single one.
Chair: Including the chief executive?
Tim Passmore: Including the chief executive.
Chair: Mr Burns-Williamson?
Mark Burns-Williamson: All inherited, including the chief executive, apart from Mr Murison and the deputy.
Q449 Chair: You have a deputy. Mr Hardwick does not have a deputy, and Mr Passmore does not have a deputy. In the unlikely occurrence that you might be ill or incapacitated-and you both look extremely healthy, even after this appearance-who would deputise for you, Mr Hardwick? What would happen if you were not there, you were ill or you had gone abroad?
Alan Hardwick: I have been ill quite recently, Mr Chairman, and the chief executive has, in fact, deputised for me.
Q450 Chair: Is it a little odd that someone who has not been elected, who is the chief executive of your paid staff, should act as the commissioner?
Alan Hardwick: I understand, sir, that that is allowed within the regulations that created this job. Obviously there are decisions that only a commissioner can take, and even a deputy commissioner cannot take those decisions. In that instance, I would expect my chief executive to bring any documents to my sick-bed. I think that is how it works.
Q451 Chair: It sounds very dramatic. Mr Passmore, again you look in perfect health, even after 45 minutes before the Home Affairs Select Committee.
Tim Passmore: It must be all the rugby refereeing I do.
Chair: What would happen if something happened to you? Who would have the reins of your power?
Tim Passmore: Similarly to my colleague here on my right, the chief executive would take responsibility for the day-to-day running of whatever needed to be decided, but of course in conjunction with the Police and Crime Panel. Their input would be invaluable in that particular position. Equally, in the regulations there are limits on who can appoint whom, like chief constables and so on, and we have to conform with the regulations.
Q452 Mark Reckless: Mr Burns-Williamson, you have described appointing your deputy. Mr Passmore, I understand your chief executive was inherited. Can I ask, just to fill this out, Mr Hardwick, on what basis did you appoint Mr Burch as your chief executive?
Alan Hardwick: In fact I inherited Mr Burch from the police authority. That does a disservice to him as though he was second-hand, but that is far from the truth. I had worked with Mr Burch and with the other members of the police authority staff, and I simply confirmed them in their places but with me as commissioner. I have not expanded the staff and they are the staff that worked for the former police authority.
Q453 Mark Reckless: How well did you know Mr Burch prior to him taking up his current position?
Alan Hardwick: I knew him very well. I remember him being appointed, and we had a good and professional working relationship for three years before I was elected.
Q454 Mr Winnick: I notice that the salary of the chief executive is in excess of what is paid to the three of you. Is that correct, Mr Burns-Williamson?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Just to expand quickly, Fraser Sampson is someone I know well, and he was chief executive of the police authority, but he is a solicitor as well. The salary as chief executive is slightly below that of mine as the commissioner, but the additional amount for the solicitor duties takes it above £100,000.
Q455 Mr Winnick: Is that the position with you, Mr Passmore?
Tim Passmore: Yes. That was the position I inherited and that is why he has the salary he has.
Q456 Mr Winnick: Mr Hardwick?
Alan Hardwick: The answer is the same, sir. The salary has not increased.
Q457 Mr Winnick: I don’t seem to have in the brief the salary of the chief executive in your case, Mr Hardwick.
Alan Hardwick: The salary of the chief executive is available online. From memory I believe it is £95,000 a year. My salary is £65,000 a year.
Mr Winnick: The other two chief executives seem to be paid more, but that is the situation. Thank you very much.
Q458 Chair: Mr Burns-Williamson, just one question about the report that was published last week as a result of Operation Yewtree. Have you had an opportunity to look at that report, and are you doing anything about the concerns that were expressed that West Yorkshire Police were perhaps too close to Mr Savile?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Yes. The report you are referring to is Operation Newgreen, which was a West Yorkshire-led review of matters relating to Jimmy Savile, but it falls under the ambit of Yewtree and in fact a referral to the IPCC. Last Friday I did a number of interviews to say that what we should bear in mind here are the victims in this awful episode, and that there are a number of things that were not done that should have been done by West Yorkshire Police and there are questions to answer. I am in conversation with the chief constable about how we take forward some recommendations within that report.
Also, in the police and crime plan that I published a few weeks ago, I did say that I wanted to now undertake a root-and-branch review of how complaints and discipline matters are dealt with. I can announce I will be launching that with Catherine Crawford, the ex-chief executive of the Metropolitan Police Authority, as the person who will oversee that review and report in the coming weeks.
Q459 Chair: That is very useful. It would be very useful for the Committee to be kept informed of what you are doing. As far as your situation is concerned, Mr Hardwick, going back to where we began, there is still an investigation going on. You have asked Sir Peter Fahy to now come and look at the situation, given that the IPCC referred the whole situation back to yourselves. Is there a timetable on this?
Alan Hardwick: I spoke to Sir Peter yesterday, and we are confident that the decision that will come from his investigation will be with me within four weeks.
Q460 Chair: If he comes to the conclusion that you were wrong, as the High Court judge did-
Alan Hardwick: I will honour that.
Q461 Chair: And apologise to the chief constable?
Alan Hardwick: Apologise to the chief constable? Yes, I would apologise to the chief constable.
Q462 Chair: Thank you. Finally, the reason why you have been called before us-and please do not take it personally; we could have called any of the police and crime commissioners before us-is that the Committee is very interested in this new appointment and where it will lead. Do you think that there ought to have been more guidance and support given to those who have been appointed to deal with this situation? Should the Home Office have been perhaps a little bit more proactive? I know that the Home Secretary has called you in recently to talk about the issue of ethics and other issues of that kind. Should more support have been given to you from the Home Office, Mr Burns-Williamson?
Mark Burns-Williamson: Clearly I come from a different perspective from my two colleagues here as a former chair of the West Yorkshire police authority and chair of the national association. I am on record as saying I think the legislation was badly drafted in the end. It is right and proper that there should be a review of this as we go on and clearly this Committee will hopefully play a role in that. It is new territory, as you said earlier, Chair, for all of us. Even for me, it feels very different. I feel I am doing many more hours in the job. I think a lot of the risk and the perception of the public has transferred from chief constables to police and crime commissioners, and that is good, because we are accountable and directly elected. It is important that we get the right advice and staff around us to ensure we make the best possible decisions we can. I felt the Government have not quite backed a policy that they introduced, and I think that was evidenced in the election process itself. It wasn’t helpful to have an election in mid-November. I think the Government could have done more, yes.
Q463 Chair: Very briefly, Mr Hardwick, should there have been more help, more support? You come from a non-policing background, and you have been thrown into this.
Alan Hardwick: Yes, more help, more support, Mr Chairman.
Q464 Chair: From whom?
Alan Hardwick: From the Government. I think this has been made up as they have gone along. It seemed to be a very quick decision. It was not thought out properly. We are the people who decided we were going to grasp the poisoned chalice because we were the people who thought we could make a positive difference in the counties that we now serve.
Q465 Chair: Mr Passmore?
Tim Passmore: I think there could have been more guidance. However, I do think it is a sound policy in principle and in the public interest. Being able to customise and localise policing in your area is clearly an advantage, and, of course, there is much greater transparency with one individual elected through the ballot box and greater accountability for whatever the constabulary does. More guidance, yes, but after the first six months I think it is a very worthwhile policy and will make a big difference.
Q466 Chair: Just to confirm, none of you have appointed chauffeurs?
Chair: Commissioners, thank you very much for coming in. We are most grateful.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Peter Box, Outgoing Chair, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, Patricia O'Brien, Chair, Suffolk Police and Crime Panel, and Ray Wootten, Chair, Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel, gave evidence.
Q467 Chair: We welcome all the chairs to the dais. Thank you very much for coming-some of you at very short notice-to appear before the Committee.
I want to start with you, Councillor Wootten. You have heard the session, so you know roughly which direction the Committee is going in. We want to take you through the circumstances of the suspension of the chief constable. We have heard from the commissioner that you were informed that the chief constable was suspended from his post. Did you agree with that decision?
Ray Wootten: Good afternoon, Chairman. In fact the commissioner informed me at 10.00pm on 25 February that he was due to suspend the chief constable. At the time I asked why he was suspending the chief constable, and he said it was a confidential matter so I did not push further questions to the commissioner. Therefore, it wasn’t until a later stage that I knew exactly what the suspension entailed.
Q468 Chair: It is pretty shocking news to receive at 10.00pm any night that the chief constable has been suspended by the new police and crime commissioner when you are the new chair of the panel.
Ray Wootten: It is indeed.
Q469 Chair: Did you not want to know why?
Ray Wootten: I did, but I took further legal advice the following day and I was told because it was perhaps an operational matter that we, as a panel, were not involved.
Chair: That it was an operational matter?
Ray Wootten: Exactly.
Q470 Chair: Was that a different legal adviser to the legal adviser who had given legal advice to the commissioner?
Ray Wootten: It was indeed. It was the county council legal adviser that advises East Lindsey District Council.
Q471 Chair: It was not an adviser to the panel; you went to your local authority?
Ray Wootten: No. I will just clarify that, Chairman. It was an adviser to the panel.
Q472 Chair: The panel has its own legal adviser-
Ray Wootten: It does indeed.
Chair: -which is the solicitor to the county council appointed by you.
Ray Wootten: No, it is not appointed by me. It is appointed by East Lindsey District Council.
Q473 Chair: How do they get to be the legal adviser to the panel?
Ray Wootten: I am afraid I do not know the answer to that question.
Q474 Chair: But you are the chair of the panel.
Ray Wootten: I am indeed.
Q475 Chair: Would you not know who appointed the legal adviser to the panel?
Ray Wootten: I don’t, no.
Chair: I am a bit surprised at that. I would have thought if you were the chair of the panel you would know who was the legal adviser and who appointed them. Nobody has told you?
Ray Wootten: No.
Q476 Chair: When the matter went to court and the High Court judge said this was a perverse decision, were you surprised at the decision of the High Court?
Ray Wootten: Yes, but again I took legal advice and was informed that that decision was not within our remit.
Chair: No, you did not take legal advice about your surprise. You were surprised?
Ray Wootten: Yes, I was indeed. Sorry, I misunderstood your question.
Chair: The issue of legal advice is quite separate. You were surprised that the High Court judge had said this was a perverse decision and had reinstated the chief constable. Your assumption was that the chief constable would not be reinstated.
Ray Wootten: I was not aware of the circumstances of why the chief constable was suspended. My reaction at the time was of surprise, but I have nothing further to say on that, Chairman.
Q477 Chair: We may have further questions to put to you. You may not have anything to say to us but this is a very serious matter that we need to probe. You were surprised, but even then you did not ask why he was suspended?
Ray Wootten: After the judgment I was informed by the commissioner the day before of why Neil Rhodes, the temporary chief constable, had been suspended.
Q478 Chair: Why did it take you 72 days to call a meeting of the panel to discuss this matter?
Ray Wootten: The reason is that I took legal advice and, once again, was informed that the suspension of the chief constable was not within our remit. I questioned this. I then took further advice from Mr Norris from the Local Government Association, who said it was. I then went back to our legal advice and again requested an extraordinary meeting and was informed that I could not have an extraordinary meeting.
Q479 Chair: By whom?
Ray Wootten: By our legal adviser. I then emailed Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to ask for clarification. On 26 March I received a letter from Damian Green, acting as Minister for Policing, who said that we did have authority to investigate.
Q480 Chair: Have you now dismissed the legal adviser?
Ray Wootten: No. I have now called for an extraordinary meeting, which took place last week, on 9 May, where we set up a task group to look at the suspension of the chief constable and any implications that it may have for policing in Lincolnshire.
Q481 Chair: Was this after the Committee asked you to appear before us?
Ray Wootten: No. This was before.
Q482 Chair: You convened a meeting before the Committee asked you to appear?
Ray Wootten: I did indeed.
Q483 Chair: The public, who were originally told they could enter the meeting-you are a Police and Crime Panel, and presumably you want the public to know and you said you would welcome the public to ask questions-were not allowed to enter the room. The meeting lasted 10 minutes.
Ray Wootten: The meeting lasted 15 minutes, Chairman. Unfortunately the room was packed. As a panel, we were unaware that there were members of the public waiting downstairs to enter the meeting. One of my panel members was restricted from entering the meeting as well. As a panel, we were totally unaware.
Q484 Chair: Councillor Wootten, what has happened in Lincolnshire sounds farcical.
Ray Wootten: It does.
Chair: No wonder it has reached the national press.
Ray Wootten: I have apologised myself to the members of the public on behalf of the panel, and East Lindsey District Council have apologised to the panel members for the circumstances on that day. It was completely out of our control.
Q485 Chair: It is not just the meeting, Mr Wootten; it is the whole circumstance that sounds extraordinary. Don’t you think an apology is needed to the people of Lincolnshire for the way in which this has been handled?
Ray Wootten: I have asked the chief executive to issue a public apology.
Chair: The chief executive of what?
Ray Wootten: East Lindsey District Council. I have issued a public apology. The public apology has appeared in the local papers.
Q486 Chair: Mr Wootten, it is not for me or the Committee to give you legal advice, but you might want to look at the issue of who has given you this legal advice and the fact that you have had to go all the way to the Home Secretary and be told by the Policing Minister that you were able to call a meeting. How many years have you served in local government?
Ray Wootten: Six. I also have 22 years as a serving police officer, now retired.
Q487 Chair: Looking back at the whole circumstances of the events, it was a shambles, wasn’t it?
Ray Wootten: I would agree with you. I have called on many occasions for an extraordinary meeting of the Police and Crime Panel. I have been told on many occasions that that meeting should not take place: first, because the judicial review was going ahead; and, secondly, the fact that county council elections were ongoing. Therefore, I waited for the end of the county council elections to demand an extraordinary meeting, which took place on 9 May.
Q488 Dr Huppert: I am slightly flabbergasted by some of what you have said. It seems to me that as chair of the panel you have a leadership role in making sure that these things are done correctly.
Ray Wootten: I do. I have the full support of my panel.
Q489 Dr Huppert: If you have the full support of your panel and you called many times for extraordinary meetings and they did not happen, that suggests there is a concern. Some of us here were on the debate through this legislation, and certainly one of my major concerns was the panels would not be strong enough to get things done. I think we will come back to that, but it seems to me that you are not even living up to what the legislation allows.
Ray Wootten: I can assure you I am strong, otherwise I would not have taken further advice from Damian Green or from the Local Government Association. I have strongly called for an extraordinary meeting and it has been resisted from our legal department.
Q490 Dr Huppert: It seems to me the chair of a committee does not have to strongly call for meetings of their own committee. They normally just happen. I refer to the question that the Chair asked. You have a legal adviser and you do not know how they got the job, so presumably you asked a council to sort it out?
Ray Wootten: I understand the legal adviser is job shared. Although I am a district councillor, I am also a county councillor, and that legal adviser does share her role with different councils.
Q491 Dr Huppert: You have implied that the problems ultimately arise as a result of one of the district councils that make up the panel. Will you be detaching them from any further role in the Police and Crime Panel and find a different council that could service it, for example? It seems to me that you are having very poor service.
Ray Wootten: Sorry, could you just repeat that last section of your question?
Dr Huppert: As I understand it, you are getting advice and support from one of the district councils.
Ray Wootten: From the county council legal adviser, yes.
Q492 Dr Huppert: Could you get a different council to provide that service? It seems like they are not serving you well. If you, as the chair of a panel, are getting them refusing to allow you to call meetings of your own committee and giving legal advice that you then have to get Ministers to overturn, what does it take to get different legal advisers and get a different council to administer things?
Ray Wootten: That legal adviser was a senior legal adviser. It is like Alan Hardwick taking the decision to suspend the chief constable. He took legal advice. If you go against legal advice, where do you go?
Q493 Dr Huppert: You get other legal advisers who do not have the same problem. It seems to me that either you are getting very poor advice, in which case you need to get different advisers, or you are making poor decisions based on that advice.
Ray Wootten: I am certainly not making poor decisions-
Dr Huppert: If you are not making poor decisions, then it is the advice that must be wrong.
Ray Wootten: -otherwise I wouldn’t be strongly pushing forward for action to be taken for an extraordinary meeting to be called.
Q494 Dr Huppert: I certainly know for this Committee if the Chair wants an extraordinary meeting to be called, an extraordinary meeting generally gets called relatively promptly. I don’t think he spends months calling for it.
Chair: No, nor do I seek legal advice.
Ray Wootten: Mr Chairman, when you get written legal advice not to take any further action, what do you do?
Chair: The first thing you can do is send it to the Select Committee. We would like to see a copy of the advice and a timeline of what you have had to go through.
Ray Wootten: I have all the emails.
Chair: Councillor Wootten, it sounds pretty awful for you, and we would like to help you. It would be very helpful if you could let us have a timeline and any written legal advice and any emails you have received.
Ray Wootten: I just want to reiterate I do have the full support of my panel members.
Chair: I am very pleased to hear that.
Q495 Mark Reckless: I do not think one would at all want to personalise this in your individual personal role in Lincolnshire, not least because in Kent we had a similar situation with a youth police and crime commissioner that attracted the national headlines. A member of the panel wanted the panel to call an extraordinary meeting about it, but the chairman said that they were not allowed to on the basis of legal advice. But is it not the chairman who decides, not the legal adviser?
Ray Wootten: It is indeed, but when you have a door that is locked solid and you are banging on that door and it does not break down, how do you get through that door?
Q496 Mark Reckless: As a police officer previously, I am sure you could have answered that question. But, seriously, these Police and Crime Panels came into being, they are a great sort of Liberal Democrat initiative in addition to our legislation, but many people listening to this evidence will feel that they are not working. How can we make them work better?
Ray Wootten: That is a fair comment, because earlier on in the Police and Crime Panel meetings I had one member who wanted all the members to resign en bloc because they felt that we did not have enough strength or power to bring any commissioner to account.
Q497 Mark Reckless: Can you explain a bit more about the role of East Lindsey District Council? Why did they make the decision?
Ray Wootten: They are the host authority. The ones who set up-
Q498 Mark Reckless: Who decided they would be the host authority?
Ray Wootten: I do not know. I cannot answer that question.
Q499 Mark Reckless: Could you please find the information and write to the Committee? I think it is reasonable to expect you, as chairman, to have that information. Is it not the case that the role of a host authority is to provide administrative support to the panel and its members not to make the decisions?
Ray Wootten: You are correct.
Q500 Mark Reckless: Will you now work to ensure that Lincolnshire functions in that way in the future?
Ray Wootten: Yes.
Q501 Mark Reckless: Could I ask the other two-I am sorry you have not been brought into the conversation so far-do you feel that your panel is working adequately?
Peter Box: It is far quieter than Lincolnshire. I think we are.
Q502 Mark Reckless: Is it meeting?
Peter Box: Yes. We met seven times in shadow form, and we have met six times formally since the commissioner was appointed. We met in shadow form, because I felt it was important to develop strong relationships between the panel members. We comprise Labour and Conservative members and two independent members on the panel. There are no pre-meetings of any kind, no political meetings, so I was keen to develop a strong team before we became live, hopefully to avoid some of the problems that we have heard earlier on today.
Q503 Mark Reckless: Ms O’Brien?
Patricia O'Brien: We have had I suppose a very easy ride when I listen to the other two. Similar to that gentleman, we have four Conservative councillors on there, seven district councillors and two independents. It has been working very well. We have had four meetings so far. I have had informal meetings with the commissioner. I have also had meetings with my vice-chairman, and we have discussed how we go forward. I have pre-meetings with my panel as well, and it has worked very well so far.
Q504 Mark Reckless: A final question from me to all three of you: do you see your role primarily as being one of scrutiny or one of support? What is the balance between those two roles in respect of the PCC and the panel relationship?
Peter Box: I am pleased you raised that because most of the questions so far have been in connection with the scrutiny role, and the legislation makes it clear there is that support role as well. I think if you look at the way that the police and crime commissioner’s plan was dealt with, that shows how you can both scrutinise and support. We made comment on the plan. The commissioner came back and made some changes to the plan. I think that is just one example of how we can work constructively together, but at the same time be critical where you need to be.
Ray Wootten: I agree with those comments. We have had, again from our legal adviser, a reminder that we are there to support the commissioner.
Chair: I think every time you mention "legal adviser" there is a rolling of eyes on the part of this Committee, because obviously you have not been well served so far, as you have said.
Ray Wootten: Mr Chairman, I can understand your frustrations. I have been very frustrated in being unable to call this meeting.
Q505 Chair: Yes, we understand your frustrations. Councillor O’Brien, would you like to answer Mr Reckless?
Patricia O'Brien: Yes. I have not used a legal adviser, but we have one. The officers of the panel have given me very good advice so far, and I have had no problems with it.
Q506 Steve McCabe: Councillor O’Brien, I want to direct this question at you, but I am not talking specifically about Mr Passmore. I am asking in general. Could you outline to the Committee what you think the Police and Crime Panel can do in terms of scrutinising any potential conflicts that may arise between the role of the commissioner and other paid work, directorships, interests or memberships of organisations he may have?
Patricia O'Brien: I think I would be very concerned if I felt that was not their primary role. As you have heard from the commissioners themselves, they are working 60 or 70 hours a week. I doubt if they could fit anything else in, although our commissioner is also a district councillor, but you can take a very back seat on that and he has been that for some time. I would expect them to give that their all and that there should not be any other outside interests that would take away from that.
Q507 Steve McCabe: Can I ask one other thing of all three of you. I served on the committee that scrutinised this legislation as well, and my memory is that Police and Crime Panels were actually quite a late addition to the legislation. Do you feel that you have the powers to do the job that you are being asked to do?
Patricia O'Brien: As you have heard, I do not think they are very considerable at all. The only power I see that we have is if the commissioner proposes a new chief constable and we disagree with his choice, then we can say, "No." We can veto that, but then he can bring forward somebody else, and we cannot do anything about it. I think we don’t have much power, to be honest.
Q508 Bridget Phillipson: This is a question for any of the three witnesses. What steps are you taking to make sure that the police and crime commissioners publish the information required of them under the legislation? As we heard earlier in the evidence, there have been some concerns about delays in publishing the necessary financial information required by the police and crime commissioners.
Ray Wootten: If I can answer on behalf of Lincolnshire, I am in regular contact with Alan Hardwick, and he has complied with the legislation; so I am happy with that.
Patricia O'Brien: With Tim Passmore also.
Peter Box: I think you heard from the commissioner from West Yorkshire that he had already published information as required, so we are quite satisfied that that has been done.
Q509 Chair: Mr Box, we specifically put to Mr Burns-Williamson, the commissioner for your area, the issue of the appointment of a number of people who are Labour Party members to key posts. What was your role in this? You did serve as a councillor with Commissioner Burns-Williamson. He resigned in January, but at the relevant time I think he was still a councillor.
Peter Box: Yes, he was.
Q510 Chair: You were the leader of the council. What was your role in the appointment of the wife of the regional director of the Labour Party to this post?
Peter Box: None. No role at all.
Q511 Chair: I think in evidence the commissioner said to us that he had given you the names and they had been endorsed.
Peter Box: Sorry, yes. I thought you meant in terms of the appointment. We were simply asked to endorse the appointment that Mark had made, so the panel saw the candidate he put forward, and there was the formal process. The minutes are available, I think online. In terms of the actual appointment, I took no part at all.
Q512 Chair: No, but "endorsement" means what exactly? They paraded in front of you and you met them, or he sent you a letter saying, "I have decided to appoint these people"?
Peter Box: Yes, that is right. He sent us a letter saying he had decided to appoint Isabel Owen, and she came before the panel. She was questioned before the formal meeting.
Q513 Chair: She came before the panel?
Peter Box: Yes. Before the formal meeting we had met privately cross-party and agreed a set of questions we asked her to tease out whether we felt she was suitable for the role, bearing in mind the role that the commissioner envisaged for her.
Q514 Chair: So you met privately, you decided questions, she came before you, you asked her questions and then you endorsed-could you have said no?
Peter Box: We could have said, "No, we don’t endorse," but my understanding of the legislation is that it was Mark’s appointment anyway.
Chair: So you could not say no?
Peter Box: We could say we did not agree, but at the end of the day I don’t think we could stop it.
Q515 Chair: Mr Wootten, have you had anyone appear before you? Has any appointment gone before you that you have had to endorse, that you needed legal advice for, perhaps?
Ray Wootten: No, no legal advice, Mr Chairman.
Chair: No legal advice, and no one appeared before you to endorse?
Ray Wootten: Yes. I have interviewed the two independent panel members.
Chair: No. Have any of the appointments made by the commissioner-
Ray Wootten: Sorry, no. I misunderstood what you were talking about; no, none at all, sir.
Q516 Chair: None at all. Councillor O’Brien?
Patricia O'Brien: The chief constable came before the panel.
Chair: After appointment he came before the panel and you interviewed him?
Patricia O'Brien: Yes.
Q517 Chair: Could you have said no?
Patricia O'Brien: We could have. As I said before, if we said no, then the commissioner would have had to go away and think again and perhaps present somebody else, but then we have no power of veto of the next appointment.
Q518 Chris Ruane: Mr McCabe touched on the question before to Ms O’Brien concerning whether you have the right toolbox or powers and resources to hold a PCC to account. I think Mr Wootten mentioned before, "We didn’t have enough strength or power to take it," and I think he meant the legal adviser.
Ray Wootten: Correct, yes.
Q519 Chris Ruane: Would you like to expand on that? What powers would help you?
Ray Wootten: For any commissioner that appears before the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel, we are able to veto his policing plan and his precept, but apart from that we have no real power to say, "No, don’t do this." He can only listen to what we have to say, take that advice on or not.
Q520 Chris Ruane: What else would you like to veto?
Ray Wootten: I would like the power to ensure that a commissioner, if given a question, is empowered or has to answer that question in full to the panel-has to by law.
Q521 Chris Ruane: What about the legal advice? You had to go to the Home Secretary and then to the Policing Minister.
Ray Wootten: Yes, but that was for a different issue, sir. That was for the issue of whether we could call an extraordinary meeting to look into the suspension of the temporary chief constable.
Chris Ruane: Your legal adviser gave you bum advice and you had to go-
Ray Wootten: Yes.
Q522 Chris Ruane: Should there be somebody above your legal adviser, not the Home Secretary, that you should be able to go to for a second opinion?
Ray Wootten: Yes, which I did. I went to Mark Norris, who is a senior adviser in the Local Government Association, to give me some advice.
Q523 Chris Ruane: But his advice was not listened to by your-
Ray Wootten: His advice was the same as Damian Green’s, that we were empowered to hold an extraordinary meeting, which is why I called one.
Q524 Chris Ruane: But your legal adviser would not listen to that advice, and you had to go to the Home Secretary.
Ray Wootten: She didn’t, no, but to be fair to her, that was when the judicial review was ongoing and also then we had the county council elections. She thought that if we held an extraordinary meeting, there would be some political advantage for a member of the panel who had raised the question while that meeting was in public.
Q525 Chris Ruane: Mr Box, is your toolbox full enough? Do you need more powers?
Peter Box: I don’t agree with what has just been said.
Chris Ruane: Good. Tell us about it.
Peter Box: I thought you would like that. I don’t agree with it.
Mr Winnick: That has been pretty obvious from your facial expressions.
Peter Box: Yes. I should try to curb that, I know. I keep getting told that, but I can’t resist. The truth is that you can legislate all you want but power quite often is informal power. I have been fascinated about the lawyer.
Chris Ruane: We are, too.
Peter Box: If I wanted to call an extraordinary general meeting, I would do; end of. I would just find a lawyer who would tell me a way I can do things. No disrespect to the Chair, knowing your background, but if you ask 10 lawyers for a bit of advice, you get 10 different answers. Personally, I would have probably got one that would find a way for a meeting to be held if I thought it was needed. As you alluded to earlier on when you questioned the commissioners, the power of the press is very valuable. I think that you need a strong panel that is going to scrutinise but at the same time work with the commissioner, and you accrete power to yourself if you create a strong relationship.
Power moves away if there is not that strong relationship between the panel and the commissioner. That is why I think in West Yorkshire we have a strong panel, because it is truly cross-party, and at the same time we have a strong relationship with the commissioner. In my view, that makes us powerful, because if we ask Mark a question, he will come along. He has not refused to answer anything we have put to him. As he said in his evidence, he has been to the panel I think on six occasions. By building that strong relationship, we do not have the problems that we appear to be developing elsewhere.
Q337 Chair: Thank you. Mr Box, you have decided to resign as the chairman of the panel?
Peter Box: I have.
Q338 Chair: When did you decide to do that?
Peter Box: It was not because of-
Q339 Chair: Was it because of our letter?
Peter Box: Despite what some might think, no. I enjoy the Select Committees. I have been to a few now, and I enjoy it. I was keen to come to come and talk about how-
Q340 Chair: Yes, but when did you resign and why?
Peter Box: I only became chair because the West Yorkshire leaders agreed that Wakefield should chair it. I am the senior leader in the whole of-
Q341 Chair: Yes. When did you become chair and why did you resign?
Peter Box: I became chair in about July last year.
Q342 Chair: Why did you resign, and when did you resign?
Peter Box: Why? I told the panel at the last meeting I was resigning, about four weeks ago, and the reason is that I only agreed to do it at the behest of the other West Yorkshire leaders to try to give it a strong, solid start, because I am the senior leader. It was always my intention to stand down after that first year.
Q343 Lorraine Fullbrook: I would just like to go back to the issue of advice. Councillor Box and Councillor O’Brien, has your panel ever felt the need to take any advice from a district or borough or any other kind of council?
Patricia O'Brien: On my part, not yet. I think it is still early days for the commissioner and for the panel. We are still in the process of learning, and we have not had too many reports that come to the panel that have been very concrete, except for the policing plan. Yes, I would certainly look for advice in other areas if the need arose.
Peter Box: I did not quite catch the question, sorry.
Lorraine Fullbrook: I was asking if either of you have felt the need to take any advice from a district borough or any other kind of council for anything on your crime panel.
Peter Box: No.
Q344 Lorraine Fullbrook: Mr Wootten, you were saying that East Lindsey District Council had given you wrong advice about the extraordinary general meeting. I have to say, I kind of lost the plot about why a district council would be involved in decisions made by your crime panel, but, rather than you making the public apology, should you not ask East Lindsey District Council to make the public apology?
Ray Wootten: I have indeed. In fact, I had a conversation with the chief executive yesterday, and his agreement was that if there was more media coverage this week then he would make a public apology, but he felt that this was not the right route to go down.
Q345 Lorraine Fullbrook: Are you going to wait all week to see if there is any more media excitement? This was not your cock-up, in effect.
Ray Wootten: No, it is-exactly.
Q346 Lorraine Fullbrook: Can’t you ask them to make the apology public? If I was in your shoes, I would not be taking the rap.
Ray Wootten: I did though, yes.
Q347 Lorraine Fullbrook: But you said you are going to wait a week and see if there is any more media-
Ray Wootten: We have agreed to wait until this Friday to see if there is any more media coverage.
Q348 Lorraine Fullbrook: If there is not, you take the fall. You are the fall guy?
Ray Wootten: Exactly.
Lorraine Fullbrook: If there is, they are the fall guy. Is that it?
Ray Wootten: Correct. You have it in one.
Q349 Lorraine Fullbrook: Why are you being the fall guy at all?
Ray Wootten: I shouldn’t be, should I?
Lorraine Fullbrook: But that is your decision. Why are you putting yourself in that position? Best advice: don’t be the fall guy.
Ray Wootten: I am not. I took the decision on the day to publicly apologise to the members of the public who were excluded from that meeting and also inform them of the contents of that meeting. After that meeting, one of our officers emailed all members of the panel to apologise on behalf of East Lindsey District Council. Clearly I was furious that one of my panel members had been excluded from one of my meetings, as did the public.
Q350 Chair: Mr Wootten, I think the Committee finds this state of affairs very unsatisfactory.
Ray Wootten: I agree with you, Chair.
Chair: We will write to the Chief Executive of East Lindsey Council today asking for a full explanation.
Ray Wootten: Thank you.
Chair: We don’t think it is satisfactory that you should wait to see whether there are articles in the newspaper before advising the public on such a very important matter.
Q351 Mr Winnick: Ms O’Brien and Mr Wootten, coming away for the moment from the legal advice that you were given, but you both indicated, if not Mr Box, that you feel that you needed more powers. Is that the position, Mr Wootten: more powers for the panel?
Peter Box: I think it is too early to say. The panel has not yet-
Mr Winnick: No, I was asking Mr Wootten.
Peter Box: Sorry, I apologise.
Ray Wootten: Sorry, could you just repeat the question, sorry?
Mr Winnick: I had the impression from both of you, Mr Wootten and Ms O’Brien, that you feel the panels should have more powers.
Ray Wootten: I feel we are supporting the commissioner and I am happy to support the commissioner, but, at the end of the day, the commissioner can dismiss any of our recommendations in law.
Mr Winnick: You agree with that?
Patricia O'Brien: I feel the same.
Q352 Mr Winnick: Would you agree as well that to some extent these panels that have been created try to give the impression that the police and crime commissioners are answerable to some form of panel like yourselves is a cosmetic exercise and in effect does not really prove much?
Ray Wootten: Many of my members, sir, feel that the panel is just rubberstamping the commissioner’s-
Patricia O'Brien: I feel the same. It does feel a bit like a cosmetic exercise.
Mr Winnick: Even after this very short period of time, you have come to that view?
Ray Wootten: Yes.
Q353 Chair: You know you are the only body that scrutinises the commissioner for a period of four years? You are aware of that?
Patricia O'Brien: Yes.
Ray Wootten: Yes.
Q354 Michael Ellis: Mr Wootten, can I suggest that if someone has done something wrong, it should not depend on whether media attention is the focus of the issue before an apology is given. Perhaps you could suggest that to the council involved, who ought not wait to see whether there is more adverse media commentary before they apologise. They should get on and apologise for it if they have done something wrong and if they accept that.
Ray Wootten: I would agree with that totally.
Q355 Michael Ellis: Perhaps they will have heard the questions of this Committee and your answers.
As far as the crime panel is concerned in the scrutiny for PCC appointments, Mr Box, can I come back to you? You said effectively that you would ignore legal advice. That seems to be what you were saying. Although that sounds all very amusing, we do expect our public officials to act under the law, do we not? You would not assume that you are above the law, would you? After all, even Secretaries of State have to sometimes accept rather painful legal advice and legal advice they may very strongly disagree with. I presume you would accept that you are not above the law and you will listen to legal advice if it is properly given to you. After all, if you do not, is it not often the case that those officials who choose to ignore legal advice may be personally responsible for actions that follow as a result of it?
Peter Box: I was not sure that the evidence I gave suggested at all that I would ignore the law; far from it. The reality is that if you get an opinion from a lawyer, you can go to another lawyer and get a separate opinion that says something different. That is what happens in the real world. You can get advice from different lawyers who give you different answers. Now then, what I was trying to say-and forgive the somewhat light-hearted way, if it came over like that-is that, in terms of the particular issue that was being raised, if you go to a lawyer and say, "Can you find me a way around this particular issue?" by and large, lawyers can. They look at the legislation. As elected members, we do not know every single dot and comma of legislation. That is why we do have lawyers. You say to a lawyer, "Can you find me a way? Is it legal to do this?" Lawyers tend to be cautious, and, having heard what has been said earlier on, it seems to me that caution ruled the day.
Q356 Michael Ellis: All right. Do you agree that the deputy police and crime commissioner can essentially be a political appointment? Do you think that is appropriate, like a special adviser? Is that something that you agree with?
Peter Box: Do I personally agree with it? The commissioner in West Yorkshire, and I was here while he was giving evidence on this, made it quite clear that he said during his election campaign that is what he would do.
Q357 Michael Ellis: Yes, but do you agree generally? For example, if it was a Conservative or a Liberal Democrat, would you take the same approach or is your approach based on partisanship?
Peter Box: I suppose all of us, from whatever party, are partisan on occasions, and I am no different. On other occasions, as Chair of Leeds City Regional Leaders Board, I work very closely with Conservatives and regard them as my friends. I am very pragmatic when it comes to getting things done. I would work with anybody, quite frankly.
Q358 Michael Ellis: Do you think that it can be a political appointment of the PCC?
Peter Box: I thought the legislation made it clear that that was the one appointment that was political.
Q359 Michael Ellis: Do you accept that? You accept that it is like a special adviser?
Peter Box: It is the legislation. It is the law.
Q360 Michael Ellis: Do you feel the same way, Mr Wootten and Ms O’Brien, that that is not a problem?
Ray Wootten: I think it could be a political appointment, but the public in Lincolnshire voted for a non-political appointment.
Michael Ellis: Yes, but the general principle is one that you find perfectly sound?
Ray Wootten: Yes.
Patricia O'Brien: I think it is a bit difficult if you are a Labour or a Conservative commissioner and then you are appointing perhaps somebody who has very different views from you. I think that is where the conflict would be, but, ideally, it should be the best person for the job.
Michael Ellis: But you agree, subject to those obvious qualifications of the best person for the job, that it is perfectly sound to have it as a political appointment?
Ray Wootten: Yes.
Patricia O'Brien: Yes, I think so.
Michael Ellis: Thank you.
Chair: Thank you very much. Mr Box, Mr Wootten, Councillor O’Brien, thank you very much for coming to give evidence. We will be writing to you, Mr Wootten. We would like a timeline of what has happened and we will also be writing to East Lindsey Council. Thank you very much for coming.
Examination of Witness
Witness: Tom Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, gave evidence.
Q361 Chair: Chief Inspector, thank you very much for coming and welcome back. I think the last time we saw you giving evidence was at your appointment hearing.
Tom Winsor: Yes.
Q362 Chair: Has it been what you expected?
Tom Winsor: No.
Q363 Chair: Better?
Tom Winsor: Yes.
Q364 Chair: Has the police force now fallen in love with you after all the controversies of the past?
Tom Winsor: No, and nor should they.
Q365 Chair: Let us move to the new landscape of policing, because we have sat with great interest and watched the revolution in terms of the changes in the number of organisations and institutions in the new landscape. One organisation has remained the same, which is the inspectorate, and therefore you come to give evidence at a time when all the other organisations are going through renewal, change, new appointments, vesting instruments, and the inspectorate is very much as it was before. Do you think that, having looked at the new landscape, there is scope for a greater role for the inspectorate, and, if there is a role for the inspectorate in the new landscape, what do you think it should be?
Tom Winsor: It is very early days to be saying that. As we have seen from the oral evidence sessions that you have had today, police and crime commissioners and the panels are not long established and in some respects are still feeling their way. This is a very different model of democratic accountability, and I think we need to give it some time to settle in.
The College of Policing is an extremely welcome, new thing that is already working as the college, and my office will establish a concordat with the college to define very clearly, in as plain as possible terms, the respective roles and jurisdictions of our organisations, because they are both pointing at the same thing: the public interest, improvement to policing.
Q366 Chair: On the college, do you think that you ought to be serving on the board of the college?
Tom Winsor: No.
Q367 Chair: Sir Denis O’Connor is obviously on there as the former chief inspector. You see yourself as being quite separate, and you talk about a concordat between the two organisations. You don’t think that you should be on there?
Tom Winsor: No, I don’t. I am sure there is an ex officio role for emeritus chief inspectors of constabulary, but no, I don’t. I think that the college is very much over the police. It is a standard-setting professional body. The inspectorate will, in almost all respects, be inspecting against standards set by the police. It will be consulted by the college as to what those standards should be, and it will, I am certain, be listened to. I do not think that the inspectorate should be sitting on the board of the college. I am very happy to, and indeed determined to, co-operate with them to the greatest extent possible, but you asked about the other parts of the landscape, because we are going to have the National Crime Agency and much else change.
Q368 Chair: Yes, but you will remain the same-
Tom Winsor: Broadly the same.
Chair: -and is there not a scope for the inspectorate to have a greater role, given the position it is in?
Tom Winsor: Yes. Our role has been diminished by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, because we no longer have a role in the appointment of chief constables. Now, that is the will of Parliament. I think there has been a certain amount of dissatisfaction with that decision by Parliament on the part of police and crime commissioners, because they have to make these appointments without the advice of HMIC, but I think it is important that HMIC respects the will of Parliament-of course we must-and therefore it is not appropriate for us to be giving informal advice, whisperings behind the tapestries, about chief officer candidates to police and crime commissioners. Our role in that respect has been reduced.
Q369 Chair: Yes, I understand that, but you have now five inspectors. The majority are not former police officers-
Tom Winsor: That is right.
Chair: -for the first time.
Tom Winsor: For the first time ever.
Q370 Chair: With a budget-I think total salaries are about £1 million a year.
Tom Winsor: That is collectively, not individually.
Q371 Chair: Collectively, yes, of course. I know you took a big pay cut, but it was not as much as that; of course collectively.
I think that, as far as the public and Parliament are concerned, here is an organisation that has a very good brand name that ought to be doing more than just producing reports. I give you just two examples. First is the double-hatting that we have at the moment where chief constables, who presumably are very busy people, are often called in to inspect other forces-I am thinking of Mike Creedon in Derbyshire, who is beginning an inquiry into undercover police officers that has gone on already for 18 months; Peter Fahy, who, we have just heard, is doing an investigation into the Chief Constable of Lincolnshire; and other examples, including Keith Bristow, the NCA Director, who is now doing an inquiry or overseeing the inquiry into the North Wales child abuse scandal. Isn’t this something that the inspectorate should be doing to avoid chief constables, who have a very busy life, having to do this work?
Tom Winsor: As far as that kind of work is concerned, I would differ from you. I do not think the answer is yes. These are investigations into live matters, or matters just recently concluded, which require current investigatory skills of a detective nature, and it seems to me the inspectorate is not the body for doing that. The IPCC is the body that does that. It deals with individual cases. We deal with systemic failings, and our role is efficiency and effectiveness. You used the phrase "just producing reports". It doesn’t feel like that, because the jurisdiction of the HMIC is as wide as policing itself.
Our statutory remit, established in 1856 and still the same today, is inspecting and reporting to Parliament now on the efficiency and effectiveness of policing, and I cannot think of any aspect of policing that is excluded from that remit. It is an extraordinarily wide remit, and, in a number of respects, our jurisdiction has been changed. We now report direct to Parliament. It is my obligation as Chief Inspector of Constabulary to produce an annual statement to Parliament on efficiency and effectiveness of policing as well as the individual reports that we do, but the power of HMIC is and always has been the authority of its voice. It is for others, the Home Secretary, the police and crime commissioners or this Committee, to do things with what we say, and, therefore, the importance of our reporting directly to Parliament and not to the Home Secretary, I think, is an extremely welcome innovation.
Q372 Chair: You sat through some of that evidence. If the commissioner for Lincolnshire was able to ring up yourself as the chief inspector or the inspectorate to get the advice that was needed in terms of overall strategy-not legal advice but for dealing with a situation of this kind-yours would be the kind of organisation that they ought to turn to. Have you looked at the role of PCCs as to whether or not in fact you have a role to play there?
Tom Winsor: If you are talking about the suspension of the chief constable, which I think you are talking about, then I must be very careful what I say, because Parliament has now legislated so that, before a police and crime commissioner may dismiss a chief constable, he must obtain a report from the Chief Inspector of Constabulary on that matter. The Lincolnshire matter is not yet concluded, so I really should not be commenting on anything concerning Lincolnshire, because I have to have-
Q373 Chair: Leave Lincolnshire to one side. Is it just dismissal, or could it be suspension as well?
Tom Winsor: They may very well ask for our advice on suspension matters as well.
Chair: They can do so now?
Tom Winsor: Correct.
Q374 Chair: Are they aware of this?
Tom Winsor: I don’t know what they are aware of.
Chair: I think some of them are not either.
Q375 Lorraine Fullbrook: Chief Inspector, I would like to ask you some questions about misconduct. Do you think it is acceptable that the door should be open for officers who retire with disciplinary proceedings pending to then rejoin their respective force or any other force later? There are many examples, but I am thinking particularly of Simon Harwood, in the case of the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 riots, or indeed Grahame Maxwell, the former chief constable of North Yorkshire, who collected a £250,000 pay-out on retirement after being found guilty of gross misconduct. Do you think it is acceptable for these people with proceedings pending to then join up later and in some cases join three days later?
Tom Winsor: Yes, it is remarkable that a police officer can so easily escape the full rigour of the disciplinary process by the simple expedient of resigning, and it may very well be that Parliament will decide to tighten the law in that respect. For example, as things stand at the moment, chief officers and police and crime commissioners cannot stop officers from resigning and that will put an end to the process. I think that Parliament is to be asked now to change that situation, and it might also be worth considering whether the arrangements for the forfeiture of police pensions could be or should be extended to the most serious cases. Again, it is a discretionary matter. For example, if there have been criminal proceedings that have led to a conviction or a dismissal for gross misconduct, then consideration should be given as to whether or not the officer in question should face a financial penalty-not necessarily his whole pension, but a proportion of his pension-to mark the disapproval of the public.
Q376 Lorraine Fullbrook: Thank you. Under what circumstances do you think misconduct hearings should be undertaken anonymously?
Tom Winsor: I think what we must always keep sight of is the presumption of innocence, but it is also appropriate that justice not only should be done but should be seen to be done. Therefore, while it should be, it seems to me, in the discretion of the relevant tribunal to protect the identity of the accused person in an appropriate case, there is much to be said for there to be a presumption of transparency, a presumption of publicity. But we must always remember, and it will depend on the nature of the charge, that police officers are in a very vulnerable position in relation to allegations that have no substance. People will make allegations against police officers out of malice and other inappropriate motives and it is important, if the allegations have the appearance of being evenly balanced or likely to be dismissed, that the officer in question’s integrity and his public reputation is not jeopardised.
Q377 Lorraine Fullbrook: Yes. You would not think that the anonymous hearings increase the risk to a repeat problem?
Tom Winsor: Sorry, the absence of the publicity wouldn’t-
Lorraine Fullbrook: No, the anonymous hearings. You do not think undertaking hearings anonymously increases the risk of the problems repeating themselves?
Tom Winsor: This is very fact-specific and context-sensitive. In some cases, that may very be the case. I think that the presumption of openness is a fair one, but it must be on a case-by-case basis.
Q378 Lorraine Fullbrook: Thank you. Now, the Metropolitan Police have recently begun to publish details of misconduct hearings. Do you think this is a useful model for other forces to follow?
Tom Winsor: Following on from my last answer, yes, I think that there is great value in misconduct hearings being in the public domain in the most appropriate of cases.
Q379 Lorraine Fullbrook: With respect to the College of Policing, what should they do, if anything, to improve integrity?
Tom Winsor: The College of Policing has an extraordinarily wide remit, and I think one of the highest priorities they have at the moment is the setting of standards that have a close relationship to integrity. I think it is extremely important as a professional college, maybe even a royal professional college, that they are very assiduous in explaining to officers what behaving with integrity really means. It can mean different things to different people, and it is extremely important that there are very simple, practical examples of where the line is. The oath that a police officer takes at the commencement of his and her service is very clear that they will act with honesty and integrity, uphold the law, respect human rights and so on. I think that police officers and others involved in policing would welcome the clearest possible guidance as to practical examples of where the line is.
Q380 Michael Ellis: Mr Winsor, it has now been over two years since the Winsor review. First of all, has your new perspective from HMIC caused you to re-evaluate any of your previous recommendations?
Tom Winsor: Yes, in one material respect. I had not anticipated when I did the review that there would be such a difficult process for the implementation of the recommendations, assuming the Home Secretary wanted to have them implemented. The Police Negotiating Board and the Police Arbitration Tribunal have, perfectly properly I have no doubt, caused the recommendations to take a much slower path to implementation than ever I had anticipated. If I had known then what I know now-we can all say that in life-then I would have made an interim report recommending the abolition of the Police Negotiating Board and the Police Arbitration Tribunal and instead their replacement with the Police Remuneration Review Body, which is now in the Bill so recently introduced into Parliament.
Q381 Michael Ellis: Are you are saying that the Negotiating Board and the Arbitration Panel are being deliberately obstructive?
Tom Winsor: I did not say they were being deliberately obstructive.
Michael Ellis: I know you didn’t say it, but I am saying that you are saying it. Are you not saying that?
Tom Winsor: I am not saying deliberately, but it has slowed things down very, very considerably and some of the-
Q382 Michael Ellis: But you think that the slowness with which they are processing it is justified?
Tom Winsor: I think it is a function of the constitution of those bodies and also, perfectly legitimately, the weight, complexity and volume of recommendations in my report that have needed to be put into that machinery.
Q383 Michael Ellis: In that case, if you think it is justified, effectively, or part of their function, why would you have wished to replace them?
Tom Winsor: I still do wish to replace them and chapter 10 of my second report said that-
Michael Ellis: As an interim measure?
Tom Winsor: No. I wish I had issued an interim report recommending their permanent, not interim, replacement. I think they should have been abolished; I think they should have been abolished first. I think they should have been abolished fast and forever.
Q384 Michael Ellis: You have always thought that, from your review, but what you are saying is different now-correct me if I am wrong-in that you would have preferred to have issued an interim report along those lines so as to make it easier for your other recommendations to be expeditiously dealt with?
Tom Winsor: Yes, by the Police Remuneration Review Body or the Home Secretary after due consultation of their own motion.
Q385 Michael Ellis: Very well. If you have to return to any of your recommendations that have not yet been implemented, which would they be and why?
Tom Winsor: I wish I had gone further in relation to the flexibility of a chief officer to bring someone in from an outside job, perhaps with a lot of years’ experience, at a higher salary than as things are at the moment; to be able to slot someone in higher up on the pay scale rather than just start at the bottom.
Michael Ellis: Could you be a little more specific?
Tom Winsor: When an officer joins the police-let us say he or she has had a career outside policing, maybe someone in their early 30s, who already has a family and other financial commitments-to be able to take that person from that job, recognise that significant other experience and slot them in higher up the pay progression threshold rather than at the bottom of the ladder; even though, according to my recommendations, the ladder of progression as a constable has been reduced from effectively 11 points to six or seven. They will go up that ladder faster, provided the other recommendations that I have made in relation to skills-based progression rather than time-based progression are implemented, which is something that has been significantly delayed, to July 2014 I now know, with the Police Negotiating Board, which will then have to go to the Police Arbitration Tribunal, and so on it will go. It will be after the next election before some of the recommendations that I have made will be implemented, if indeed they are to be.
Q386 Dr Huppert: Can I turn to the issue about crime statistics? There has been some interesting debate about this, and you said recently that the real test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not how active the police are in dealing with it after it has happened. I would certainly agree with that and I suspect many people would, but that does rely on good figures showing the absence of crime and disorder, and there has been a lot of debate. There is no doubt that the figures are coming down quite substantially. There have been suggestions that that is due to massaging of figures. It is somewhat hard for me at least to see how murder figures get massaged quite so effectively, but do you have an analysis of whether there is any truth to suggestions there is massaging of figures going on? If so, how much of it and what sort of things, and what are you doing to prevent it?
Tom Winsor: If I may say at the beginning, you are absolutely correct. The figures are critical to a whole range of decisions that elected officials, chief constables and others must make. Information is the oxygen of accountability, and the information must be sound. Intelligence is critical in policing and intelligence about how much crime there is, where it is and why it is happening is extremely important. There have been anxieties expressed in relation to the quality of crime data statistics, and it is for that reason that, subject to the outcome of consultation that finished last week on HMIC’s 2013-14 inspection programme, we will be doing an all-force inspection of the integrity of crime recording by the police and we will report on it when we have done it.
Q387 Dr Huppert: Can you say a bit more about the methodology as to how that will work? What reporting errors will you looking for, and what do you think you might not able to catch?
Tom Winsor: Well, one of them, for example, would be circumstances where crimes are incorrectly recorded, or not recorded as crimes but are recorded as incidents, and there are a number of circumstances in which this sort of thing can happen. It is alleged that from time to time police officers who are eager to improve their clear-up rates will go to a prison and get some people who are already in prison to confess to crimes they did not commit to be taken into consideration. Then there are circumstances where crimes are classified as of a lower seriousness than they deserve-for example: rape being classified as sexual assault; multiple crimes at the same location being recorded as single crimes; theft of an article being recorded as lost property; violence with injury being recorded as common assault; burglary being classified as theft in a dwelling; robbery being classified as theft from a person; and so on. That is lowering the seriousness of the crimes in question and we will not only on our force inspections examine a representative sample of these recorded crimes but will also do the appropriate interviews and get to the bottom of what is happening and why.
Q388 Dr Huppert: Do you have any evidence to suggest that this downgrading is happening substantially at the moment?
Tom Winsor: No.
Dr Huppert: Or even at all?
Tom Winsor: But I think it is legitimate that we assess the matter, particularly in view of public anxiety that there may be something awry.
Q389 Dr Huppert: When do you anticipate this to report?
Tom Winsor: I anticipate that we will report in the autumn of 2014.
Q390 Dr Huppert: It will give an overall figure as well as presumably look at individual constabularies?
Tom Winsor: Yes. It will also be the subject of my annual report to Parliament after the report has been published.
Q391 Steve McCabe: Mr Winsor, in terms of police efficiency, I just wondered if you were familiar with the work that the Vanguard Consultancy Service is doing with a number of police forces across the country and some of the claims for efficiency that are being made as a result of this work?
Tom Winsor: No.
Q392 Steve McCabe: Is that something you would be interested in looking at?
Tom Winsor: It sounds like I should.
Q393 Bridget Phillipson: Mr Winsor, just returning to the point Dr Huppert was just talking to you about regarding the classification of crimes, it is obviously a concern if that is happening. If a victim feels that a crime has been classified as less serious than they believe the crime would suggest, what mechanism is there for that victim to ask for that to be reviewed? What changes do you think can be made within the process for there to be a greater degree of scrutiny, particularly from the victim’s perspective, if they have concerns?
Tom Winsor: The victim’s first port of call is to ask the police force in question to give their reasons for classifying the offence in question as of a lower seriousness than in question, and there are appeal procedures within police forces for the matter to be reviewed by a more senior officer. If the victim believes that the matter has been wrongfully and perhaps culpably misclassified, then a complaint can be made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. If there is evidence of a systemic practice of this kind, then that is of interest to HMIC.
Q394 Bridget Phillipson: Dr Huppert asked about what evidence you have to suggest that this could be a problem. Are you aware of reports from victims about this happening, or is it perhaps that victims are unaware that that process is available to them?
Tom Winsor: We are aware of anxieties, because we receive communications from the public, but the Chairman of the Police Federation today has made comments that there may be inappropriate practices taking place, and I think we must take that very seriously.
Q395 Mr Winnick: Mr Winsor, you made a speech about a fortnight ago where you talked about the degree of public acceptance of the use of police powers and so on and made the point of the need that police officers in communities should resemble the inhabitants of that community. What progress do you think is being made as far as diversity is concerned when it comes to the police force generally?
Tom Winsor: Not enough.
Q396 Mr Winnick: Before you go on, you gave a very frank answer-"Not enough." What powers do you have, if any, to change that position?
Tom Winsor: We do not have powers of compulsion of any kind. The powers of HMIC are in its voice, as I said earlier, and the authority with which we speak. It is for others to take remedial action where there are under-represented groups in the police force. The groups in question are under-represented in different parts of the country to different extents. The largest proportion of police officers-I do not mean police staff, but police officers-from black and minority ethnic groups in the Metropolitan Police is 10.1%. That is not still reflective of the cultural make-up of London, but it is the highest of all the police forces. West Midlands is 8.3% and the British Transport Police is 7.4%. In Leicestershire it is 6.7%; and we have other numbers. But it is highly desirable that the diversity of the police force reflects the communities because that is critical to the degree of public acceptance. However, I also said in my remarks a couple of weeks ago that I believe that the only criterion for entry into and advancement within the police service should be merit.
Q397 Mr Winnick: That is not in dispute, Mr Winsor; I don’t know of anyone who has ever suggested otherwise, and I am not suggesting you should not have stated it or emphasised it, but obviously no one has ever suggested, to my knowledge, that entry to the police force should be other than merit. We can take it for granted that it must be merit. You have no powers, as you have just told us. Influence?
Tom Winsor: Yes. The chief constable of Greater Manchester, if he was correctly reported in The Guardian on 27 January this year, has said that police forces should be compelled to discriminate positively in favour of black and minority ethnic officers in the face of a growing diversity crisis. I don’t know whether he has been correctly reported or not, but, for my part, I think positive discrimination is not appropriate. However, there are other things that can and should be done by police forces. I think police forces should much more actively seek out the brightest and the best, the people who would make really good police officers in all the communities in question, and forcefully promote the advantages of a police career to people in those communities. Now, they are going to have limited penetration in some cases because of community suspicion or mistrust for the police, but we have to break into it somehow, and I think it is extremely important that that is done.
Q398 Mr Winnick: When it comes to the most senior positions in the police force, the figures are rather disappointing, are they not?
Tom Winsor: Yes. I do not think there was a single black or minority ethnic officer on the senior command course this year. I think that that is regrettable, but it is something that we saw in the judiciary and still see in the judiciary now. Depending on accelerated promotion-but it takes time to reach the highest ranks in the police service, just as it takes a very long time to reach the highest echelons of the legal profession and into the senior judiciary, but it is happening. There are far more women on the Court of Appeal and in the High Court than there were a generation ago, and it will change over time. It may be slow, but it must happen.
Q399 Mr Winnick: Thank you. On gender, the prejudice and I obviously do consider it as prejudice, of some years ago that they could be supporting police officers, but you could hardly expect women police officers to do the job of men-they do not have the physique or strength and all that sort of argument that was used as far as discrimination or to try to justify discrimination-do you think that has been largely undermined and it is now accepted that female officers can do the job equally with men? Do you think the prejudice has been broken down?
Tom Winsor: Yes, I think it has very largely been broken down. It is impossible to say it has been eliminated, in the same way as it is impossible to say that racism has been eliminated in the police. I remember a conversation with Mr Tim Godwin, who was then the acting Commissioner of the Met when I was doing the police pay and conditions review, saying, "Well, surely you need big heavy men to deal with big heavy men in a pub fight on a Friday," and he said, "The most effective officer to send into a pub fight on a Friday night is a five-foot-two woman, because they just won’t hit her."
Q400 Mr Winnick: One last question, Mr Winsor; when the Chair asked you if the police force was in love with you, you said, I think, "No, and there is no reason why they should be." I understand that. Now that you have undertaken the job that you are holding for a year or less, do you think that you have a better understanding why police officers had such sharp criticism of your report?
Tom Winsor: It has been seven months, not a year. It feels like longer. I do not think an inspectorate should expect to be loved by the people within their jurisdiction. I think if they had a strong affection for us, then perhaps we would be failing in some respects. I hope that we will maintain and improve the respect with which we are held, and that is a different thing. The criticisms I think have been directed at me not by virtue of the fact that I hold the office that I now hold, but by virtue of the police pay and conditions review, which I-
Mr Winnick: That is what I am referring to.
Tom Winsor: -maintain has not been fully and properly understood by rank-and-file officers, many of whom are not as financially worse off and in some respects may be better off as a result of those proposals. However, the implementation of those proposals has, as we discussed at the beginning, been somewhat delayed. I give you one example: the expertise and professional accreditation allowance, first recommended at £1,200, then we had to take it down to £600 in the part 2 report, has been effectively killed by the Police Negotiating Board and the Police Arbitration Tribunal. That would have been extra money in the pockets of investigators, police officers in neighbourhood policing team with firearms and public-order-trained police officers. It is deeply regrettable that the negotiating machinery has denied these officers money they deserve.
Q401 Chris Ruane: Just on the issue of diversity and recruitment, I think it is a noble aim to have the police force balanced with the community from that it is drawn, ethnicity, gender, and in Wales we have the Welsh language as well. Is social class one of the parameters? I put down parliamentary questions on this in the past, and I do not think it is. If those communities are going to be policed, isn’t it better to have people from that community? I speak as somebody who spent 26 years on a council estate. I think it was Commander Dal Babu or his colleague, when they gave evidence the other week, said that for a recruit to go to college it would cost £1,000 upfront. Would this work against black and ethnic recruits and working-class recruits?
Tom Winsor: To get into the police, they could also serve as special constables or community support officers. They do not have to have an accredited policing qualification in the way I have mentioned. But yes, it is highly desirable that the police officers come from all strata of society, and that includes the higher socio-economic groups as well as the ones from which police officers have traditionally been drawn.
Q402 Chris Ruane: Are there any figures kept on this? Should they be kept on class?
Tom Winsor: On class? I doubt it.
Chris Ruane: Should they be kept?
Tom Winsor: I think asking people to self-classify their socioeconomic group would be an interesting statistic.
Q403 Chris Ruane: Where they were born perhaps or where they were recruited from?
Tom Winsor: It is desirable to know from all parts of society where the police are receiving their intake.
Q404 Chris Ruane: Is there a danger that in terms of the recession, when jobs are scarce, people are queuing up for jobs, that perhaps the more qualified people who have gone to university, more middle-class people, dare I say, would have a better chance of getting those jobs at the expense of somebody from a lower, working-class background?
Tom Winsor: No, because, as I said earlier in response to a question from the Chairman, merit should be the only criterion for entry into and advancement with the police, and I do not believe that any socio-economic group or ethnic group has a higher quota of merit than any other. We just need to find those people and encourage them to join the police. 26% of officers joining the police now are graduates, and a proportion are female, but not enough are coming from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. I do not think that figures exist as to whether or not we are having sufficient numbers of police officers from the higher socio-economic groups, and I am sure that the numbers from the others are very small.
Q405 Mark Reckless: Mr Winsor, you said earlier that your remit was the whole police landscape. To what extent does that include police and crime commissioners?
Tom Winsor: It is the will of Parliament that HMIC should not inspect police and crime commissioners, their efficiency and effectiveness, in the way that HMIC inspected police authorities, and so we will not do it. However, it is important that it is understood that when we report upon the efficiency and effectiveness of a police force, if a decision by a police and crime commissioner has led to that chief constable being unable to achieve the levels of efficiency and effectiveness that he would otherwise have been able to achieve if the decision of PCC had not been made in the way that it was made, then we will say so.
Q406 Mark Reckless: Would that apply equally where the PCC has commissioned an investigation?
Tom Winsor: Yes. If we think the PCC has made a mistake, we will say so.
Q407 Mark Reckless: When you say your remit is the whole police landscape, does that include the Association of Chief Police Officers?
Tom Winsor: Well, the Association of Chief Police Officers is a company limited by guarantee with a healthy income. We are looking at police forces.
Q408 Mark Reckless: ACPO is off-limits to you?
Tom Winsor: The members of ACPO when they are in force and doing their policing jobs is within our jurisdiction.
Q409 Mark Reckless: You said earlier that the College of Policing is now the standard-setting professional body. I wonder if you could help me, then, if I just perhaps give one example. Why is it that ACPO is still determining the circumstances in which police should name a suspect?
Tom Winsor: I am sure that is a function that will in time be assumed by the college.
Q410 Chair: In your speech, you talked about the better use of technology, and you felt that that would help enormously with progress as far as preventive action that was taken. Do you know what has happened to the proposal for a new IT company that the Government had suggested last year? Do you know where that is at?
Tom Winsor: It is moving kind of slowly. It is not entirely clear whether this is going to be a procurement assistance body or something with a much wider remit. It is the policy of Parliament, under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, that police and crime commissioners should have the jurisdiction that they have, and one of the greatest threats to the efficiency and effectiveness of policing is a fragmented or fractured approach to IT.
Q411 Chair: Yes, we understand all that, but where is this company? It was being headed by Lord Wasserman. This was a very important feature of your speech, which was well regarded by those who heard it. You are saying it is moving slowly. Who is responsible for the slow movement of this company?
Tom Winsor: The Home Office still have the company under their wing, and I think that decisions have yet to be taken as to whether or not its jurisdiction should be enlarged. I think that that is as much as I can tell you.
Q412 Chair: Given your interest in this, are you being included in those discussions?
Tom Winsor: Yes.
Q413 Chair: You are. The last meeting about the IT company was when?
Tom Winsor: There is a working group called Freeing Up Police Time and IT and the IT company are represented on it and that was a couple of weeks ago.
Q414 Chair: The relevant Minister presumably is Damian Green?
Tom Winsor: The relevant Minister for Policing is Damian Green, yes.
Q415 Chair: As far as procurement is concerned, I think you did also mention value for money.
Tom Winsor: Yes.
Chair: Figures have come out that Cable & Wireless earned £4,027,334 since September for 101 calls, and it appears that all they do is divert calls when people ring the 101 number to the local police force. They receive 15 pence per call, and this has totalled up to £4 million. Is this something that is within your remit? Can you look at value for money on procurement or is this something that is left to somebody else?
Tom Winsor: No, value for money on procurement is within our jurisdiction, and it will be part of our valuing in the police programme.
Q416 Chair: So, were you aware of those figures?
Tom Winsor: No.
Q417 Chair: Were you aware that, having received those figures, it has just signed another three-year contract with the Home Office?
Tom Winsor: No, but I am now.
Q418 Chair: Is that something that you might look into?
Tom Winsor: Yes.
Chair: Excellent. Mr Winsor, thank you very much for coming in here today. We are most grateful. Please do keep in touch with us and we look forward to seeing you again. Thank you, Chief Inspector.