The Police and Crime Commissioner's Deputy Decision

The Worcester News deserves to be congratulated on its campaign to reverse the decision of the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner, Bill Longmore, to appoint Barrie Sheldon as his Deputy. Mr Sheldon is an old friend of Mr Longmore and worked as his campaign agent, but his possible appointment was never mentioned during the election. I support the Worcester News strongly in its efforts to persuade Mr Longmore, even at this late stage, to hold an open appointment process for this position.

Mr Longmore makes a big mistake if he sees this as a political attack. I know from my postbag and conversations with local people that they believe what he has done is simply wrong.

Bill Longmore has made a serious error of judgment for two main reasons. First, during his election campaign Mr Longmore never said that he would appoint Mr Sheldon as his Deputy. If he had made it clear within his election literature and other public statements that Mr Sheldon would be appointed to this role, there would be no room for criticism he would have had a mandate from those who voted for him. However, there was no such pledge and Mr Longmore, therefore, has no such mandate.

Second, I am unconvinced of the need for a Deputy at all. But, I know that the law allows for a Police and Crime Commissioner to appoint one. I am also concerned that the PCC and his Deputy both come from Staffordshire, well to the north of Worcestershire and not even part of the West Mercia force area. This leaves southern Worcestershire and Herefordshire (and arguably Shropshire too) with a PCC and Deputy who have no real insight into the local area. I am worried that will mean that the interests and needs of Worcestershire and Herefordshire will not be properly understood. If Mr Longmore does really feel the need for a Deputy then it should at least be someone from the south of the police force area to balance his experience.

I have written to Bill Longmore urging him to reconsider his decision. I do hope that he will think long and hard about the appointment of his deputy and how he can regain the confidence of those he is elected to represent.

The campaign of the Worcester News, highlighting this important issue, proves again the worth of a vigorous local newspaper. Such papers do not always make the lives of politicians easy, and nor should they, but they perform an invaluable public service.


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