Stephen Mold WILL NOT stand for Northamptonshire Commissioner role in May after misogynistic comment

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The Commissioner admits that he made a “significant mistake” and that impacts his ability to “steer cultural change” in the two emergency services

The Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner WILL NOT stand for re-election in May after making a misogynistic comment.

Stephen Mold has faced a criticism and outrage from councillors across political parties after it came to light on Thursday (March 14) that he had called his proposed new chief fire office – Nikki Watson – a ‘b**ch’ in front of a group of firefighters, during a private meeting.

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Today (Friday March 15), his office has announced that he will not stand for re-election in May due to the “significant mistake” he made, which will “have an impact on his ability to steer cultural change” in Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service.

Stephen Mold.Stephen Mold.
Stephen Mold.

In a statement from his office, Mr Mold said: “The language I used was not acceptable. It has had a significant impact, not just on the officers and staff of Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, but on the wider public. I take full responsibility and I apologise as strongly as I can for what I said.

“I will not seek re-election as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. I accept I made a significant mistake and I can’t take back what I said. I will therefore do the right thing for both organisations and the people of Northamptonshire.”

The incident relates to Mr Mold saying ‘I’ll dump the b***h’ if Ms Watson was not cleared by an ongoing police conduct investigation. The comment was made during a meeting with firefighters at a station on March 1.

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Three people reported the incident to the commissioner’s own anonymous reporting hotline.

At a Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel held at The Guildhall on Thursday – shortly after the comment came to light – Mr Mold apologised for the language he used, however his apology was labelled “mild” by Councillor André González De Savage.

The councillor said during the panel meeting: “That behaviour really should be called into question and I think that the behaviour of the commissioner is absolutely aberrant.

"I think it’s deplorable and abusive in terms of the language that was used and I don’t think that anyone around the table here today can absolutely associate themselves and be proud about what we are doing here if we’re not holding to account the commissioner.

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"I think that the lack of judgement by the commissioner is really disgraceful."

Councillor David Smith, chair of the committee, added that there is “massive discomfort” surrounding the language used.

Following the meeting, the announcement was made today, which also confirmed that Mr Mold will continue as Commissioner until the election to “enable a proper handover”. The election will take place on May 2. Register to vote here.

In the statement released by Mr Mold’s office, the outgoing Commissioner added that he is standing aside as it is “clearly the right thing to do”.

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Mr Mold’s statement continued: “I am immensely proud of what I have achieved as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. Northamptonshire Police has more officers than ever before, has improved significantly, and it has ambitious plans to tackle the issues that really matter to people in their communities.

“I took over governance of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, have invested in staff, equipment and appliances. I have huge admiration for what they do and believe they have a service they can be proud of.

“I know that culture is one of the biggest challenges facing both services, and it was up to me to set an example. I have failed on that with the language I used, and I really am sorry that I have let people down. I have the utmost respect for the challenging work that our police and fire officers and staff do.

“There are many achievements in Office that I am proud of. The early intervention, domestic abuse, victims and youth work that I championed have made a difference to people’s lives – I know that, and I am proud of all the staff who work so hard to make a difference and to say it is something I had a part in.

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“But I can’t allow my mistake to overshadow all the excellent work taking place to keep people safe in Northamptonshire.

“Public life is hard – the public spotlight is relentless at times and the pressure intolerable. No-one can remain immune to that and the toll it has taken on me and those around me has been significant.

“For all these reasons, I will stand aside at the election. I believe I leave both Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Services in a much better place - and this is clearly the right thing to do.”

Ms Watson is yet to take up her post after it was revealed she is under investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over her attendance at a policing conference while she was employed as deputy chief constable by Avon and Somerset Police.

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Prior to the latest controversy, Mr Mold had also been under pressure after he appointed his close friend Nicci Marzec as chief fire officer last summer. He was accused of nepotism after it emerged her appointment was not approved by the fire panel.

Also under Mr Mold’s tenure, a misconduct hearing into how Chief Constable Nick Adderley represented his military career was delayed until the end of May, despite the top cop being on full pay.