Police commissioner Adam Simmonds has defended himself against fresh allegations of ‘cronyism’ after his three temporary assistant commissioners were all given £65,000-a-year jobs.
Mr Simmonds this week announced the assistants, including two close aides, had all been appointed to high-profile permanent positions inside his commission at Wootton Hall.
It follows what the Tory PCC described as a “rigorous” interview process, which saw each candidate psycho-analysed, quizzed by a panel and vetted by an independent assessor. The panel included the police head of HR and the leader of Kettering Borough Council. Mr Simmonds confirmed Iain Britton was to become the permanent Assistant Commissioner for Justice.
Kathryn Buckle becomes Assistant Commissioner for Governance, and Peter Heaton becomes Assistant Commissioner for Public Involvement.
Mr Simmonds described Ms Buckle as “my best friend” during his acceptance speech following his election.
All three were given the jobs on a temporary basis following the election in November and will now take up their permanent posts on April 1.
The appointment of Ms Buckle, who acted as Mr Simmonds’ election agent, and Mr Heaton, who worked as his press agent during last year’s election campaign, have already been met with criticism by opposition parties.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats at County Hall, Councillor Brendan Glynane earlier this week criticised the appointments. “It really is unbelievable. The Conservatives have made the wrong choice yet again, choosing cronyism and jobs for the boys and girls over making our streets safer. Given the outcry when he doled out the positions on an interim basis you’d have thought he would have learnt.”
Mr Simmonds said: “It would be totally wrong of me to put anyone in a position of doing a job they couldn’t do. It would destroy them, it would destroy the job and it would not look very good for me. I can categorically say nobody is in a job at all because they had any previous affiliation with me.”
Mr Simmonds said he has appointed the people who were most capable of delivering his manifesto pledges.
He said: “The people we chose proved to be the people capable of doing the full-time roles. They are still going to have to prove themselves, they are still going to have to deliver for me.”
The Chron understands nine people went through the interview process and around 13 people applied for the jobs, which were advertised on the force’s website.
The commissioner is yet to appoint a permanent assistant commissioner for finance.
Readers of the Chron’s website have given their opinion on PCC Adam Simmonds’ decision to appointment his three assistant commissioners.
Steve Riches, said: “It is all going precisely as critics predicted - overpaid jobs for his mates and a massive budget as he is profligate with our money.”
Matt Stockdale, who withdrew from the election, said: “I understand the angry responses made here, however my own take is one of optimism. Salaries aside, what I hope we’ll get is a new police service that delivers on driving down crime.”
Stephen Kerr said: “What prior experience of policing do any of these new ACs have? I’m imagining the same amount as Simmonds.”