Owl says: Owl says nothing – it’s speechless!!!!!
“Crime czar Alison Hernandez looks set to name a Conservative colleague from her local council days as her second-in-command.
The Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner admitted in April this year that she was considering appointing a deputy commissioner to share the workload, including increased scrutiny.
She had toyed with the idea of campaigning for office alongside a running mate last year but eventually stood alone on the Tory ticket and was elected in her own right.
Now fellow Conservative and Torbay councillor Mark Kingscote has emerged as the strong favourite and is likely to be announced later this month, Devon Live understands.
Ms Hernandez has declined to confirm the appointment of the 55-year-old NHS support worker, who specialises in mental health – one of the areas she has identified she needs extra help.
Cllr Kingscote, chairman of Torbay’s planning committee and a councillor since 2000, joined the commissioner at two public reassurance events in Exeter and Plymouth last week.
He told Devon Live on Tuesday that he had not “had a conversation about” nor been offered the post, which carries an estimated salary level of £50,000 a year though it is expected to be part-time and cost the taxpayer closer to £30,000 annually.
However, he said he believed he had the experience to take on the role.
“I am more than capable of doing the job so I don’t see why not,” he added.
“I am chairman of the planning committee, have been on the scrutiny panel for more than four years and am perfectly capable of putting my hand to lots of different things.
“I have known Alison for a long time and we have worked together on lots of community projects in the past.
“I went down to help her last week – she said “do you want to come along?” and I said “yes”. It was quite casual, just supporting her really.
“I have been doing community engagement for a long time so it’s not unusual that I would get involved in a thing like that.
“I have been involved in diversity and supporting the police in wards I represent.”
Ms Hernandez is free to appoint a deputy, as other commissioners have, without approval from the Police and Crime Panel, which is set to convene early next month.
However, the appointment would be subject to a confirmation hearing within 21 days of any announcement, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) has said.
The commissioner’s predecessor, fellow Conservative Tony Hogg, also took on paid help in the role.
He recruited Jan Stanhope for strategic support after he was elected, paying her around £20,000 a year for a two-day post, although she was not officially designated as his deputy.
Phillipa Davey, a Labour city councillor in Plymouth and a member of the panel which oversees the work of the commissioner, said she had not been informed that an announcement ahead of next month’s meeting.
However, she said that if the appointment of Kingscote was confirmed, it smacked of nepotism.
Kingscote, who was born in Torquay and has been in the NHS for 25 years, is the elected member for Shiphay with the Willows, a ward Ms Hernandez used to jointly represent alongside him.
“I have to be careful what I say as at the moment I don’t know anything at all about the appointment or his credentials, she told Devon Live.
“It does seem a bit odd – jobs for people’s friends.
“I would be interested to know what experience he has and how qualified he is to do the job especially as this is a new post which we will all be paying for.
“We are going to have to wait and see what is announced.”
The plans for a deputy come after the £100,000 a year chief executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner left last week.
Andrew White, who was recruited by Mr Hogg, has been hired by Lincolnshire Police to work as second-in-command to chief constable Bill Skelley.
Chief cons Skelly, who left his previous job as assistant chief constable in Devon and Cornwall last year, has hired White to become the force’s most senior civilian officer.
Ms Hernandez declined to comment on Cllr Kingscote’s potential recruitment, but she defended her plans for the appointment of a deputy in April.
She said: “Half of all police and crime commissioners, of all political colours, have appointed deputies – some also have assistant PCCs as well.
“Our strategic alliance partners in Dorset already have a deputy PCC.”
She also said a deputy could carry additional formal responsibilities on scrutiny and could play a greater role with elected members.
“This is the largest policing area in England, with a population of 1.7 million, 18 MP constituencies, three unitary authorities, one two tier authority, numerous districts and offshore islands.
“There are eight community safety partnerships, two fire services and a number of clinical commissioning groups. I plan to play an even greater part alongside all these partners.
“HMIC has identified a number of areas for improvement recently, including the critical area of crime recording in which the public must have confidence.
“Both these areas require considerable scrutiny.
“Therefore I am considering having a deputy to provide specialist support and advice in these areas and also to enhance our understanding of mental health issues.
“I have not made a final decision about appointing a deputy. It is something I am considering.
“Should I decide to make an appointment I will need to provide the Police and Crime Panel with terms and conditions for their confirmation hearing and that will be publicly available at that time.”
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners has said the law allowed commissioners to appoint a deputy.
“It is a matter for the local PCC to decide if he or she wishes to do this,” it said.
“In the event that a PCC is incapacitated or unable to fulfil their duties for any length of time, it is the role of the Police and Crime Panel to appoint an acting PCC.
“If the absence continues for longer than six months, then a PCC election must take place.”