December 14, 2021 9.09 am

Lincolnshire PCC denies wrongdoing as IOPC investigates chief constable recruitment

The recruitment process restarted before a new Chief Constable was hired

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Comissioner Marc Jones is being investigated over the recruitment of a new chief constable, which last year caused the process to be restarted before Chris Haward was appointed in the role.

The Lincolnshire PCC picked Paul Gibson as his preferred candidate in September 2020 for the job advertised at around £143,000 per year. The chosen replacement was blocked by “issues relating to the probable disclosure of candidates’ information” to the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel, which was meant to approve the new chief.

At the time the PCC, who was re-elected in his role in May this year, said after taking legal advice it became clear that it would be complicated, costly and potentially lengthy to address, so he withdrew his nomination and restarted the process.

Gibson later got a new job as Regional Deputy Chief Constable for the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), before Chris Haward was selected to be Bill Skelly’s successor as Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is now investigating Mr Jones after receiving conduct referrals from the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel, but he has denied any wrongdoing.

The investigation by the IOPC will look into the allegation of misconduct in public office, and whether the PCC followed relevant recruitment policies and procedures, as well as the accuracy of public statements issued by him during the process. However, it does not mean that any criminal charge would necessarily follow.

In a statement to The Lincolnite, Marc Jones said: “I have recently been provided with information about a referral to the IOPC regarding a 12-month-old recruitment process for a new Chief Constable for Lincolnshire – a process that did not actually conclude.

“This pre-dated the successful appointment of our current, excellent Chief who was unanimously supported by the Police and Crime Panel. I want to state that, whilst I will work fully with the IOPC as they look into the matter, I am clear in my mind that there has been no wrongdoing and expect any enquiries to conclude the same.

“It is right that a system is in place to ensure decisions are taken correctly and in the public interest. However, due to the pressures placed upon the IOPC by their workload I expect it to be almost a year from now before this matter is closed which is less than ideal.

“My focus remains, as ever, on ensuring our communities get the policing service they deserve and that we are striving to make Lincolnshire feel and be safer for all.”

An IOPC spokesperson said: “The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the alleged conduct of the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in relation to a previous recruitment process for a new Chief Constable in 2020.

“The investigation follows careful assessment of conduct referrals from the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel. It is examining the allegation of misconduct in public office and whether the PCC followed relevant recruitment policies and procedures, as well as the accuracy of public statements issued by the PCC at stages of the process.

“Any allegation that a criminal offence may have been committed by a PCC must be referred by the appropriate authority to the IOPC to determine whether the matter should be investigated.

“In order to start an investigation, the IOPC must be satisfied there is an indication that a criminal offence has been committed. An IOPC investigation does not mean that any criminal charge would necessarily follow.

“We have contacted the PCC and the Police and Crime Panel to advise them of our investigation. This investigation does not relate to the recruitment of the current Chief Constable. As this investigation is at an early stage, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

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