The new police commissioner for Northamptonshire has admitted that allegations of cronyism over the way he has appointed staff to help run the force have been ‘damaging’.
Conservative candidate, Adam Simmonds, won the election to be Northamptonshire’s first police commissioner in November,
Shortly after taking on the job, he appointed four interim assistant commissioners, including his election agent and two former colleagues from Northamptonshire County Council.
Speaking to the county’s new police and crime panel, where he faced a two-hour grilling from politicians on Thursday, he admitted reaction to the appointments had created a “damaging perception”.
But he defended the appointments, arguing he could not run the force alone and pledged that future staff would be taken on through an open and transparent recruitment process.
He said: “I would rather appoint people than appoint nobody and be a failure, because this can’t afford to be a failure, it has to work.
“I am up to the task, but I won’t do it alone, I need to appoint a commission.
“There are people who believe the commissioner should have no additional support.
“But if I am going to do this job, I had to have additional people.”
The police and crime panel is made up of county councillors and members of the public who will oversee the commissioner’s work.
Speaking during the meeting, the leader of the opposition at County Hall, Councillor Brendan Glynane (Lib Dem, Delapre) told the commissioner many people were critical of his initial appointments.
He said: “The hard-pressed taxpayers of Northamptonshire feel you’ve got off on the wrong foot with some of these appointments.
“The fear all along was that the police would become politicised and the appointment of your election agent has not done your standing in the county any good.”
During the meeting, the commissioner revealed he will spend nine hours on the street with police officers in Northampton town centre on Friday night this week.
He also revealed he has meetings with several Government ministers and the home secretary planned to discuss policing issues in Northamptonshire.
He also announced that he would reveal plans for the creation of a new drugs and organised crime unit in the county on Monday.