Hernandez appoints “old friend” as her deputy

Owl says: can this woman sink any further into the swamp? How many people were interviewed for the job, one wonders. The Police and Crime Panel has to ratify the post. Now THAT will be interesting!

Crime czar Alison Hernandez has named 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 she has revealed that fellow Conservative and Torbay councillor Mark Kingscote will be her deputy.

Cllr Kingscote, a 55-year-old NHS support worker, who specialises in mental health is chairman of Torbay’s planning committee and a councillor since 2000.

He 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.

Devon Live first revealed the appointment earlier this month.

At the time Cllr Kingscote said 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.

The commissioner’s predecessor, 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 that the appointment smacked of nepotism.

“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.”

The plans for a deputy come after the £100,000 a year chief executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner left at the end of last month.

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 said she will next week ask the Police and Crime Panel to support the appointment of Mark Kingscote as her deputy.

She said he has significant experience in scrutinising the use of tax-payers money, planning, health (particularly mental health) and diversity.

“I have every confidence that Mark is the right person for this role,” she added.

“He is a strong individual who will represent the most vulnerable in our communities well, is committed to building safe, resilient and connected communities and with a track record in the areas we need to enhance efforts on.”