THE region’s new deputy police and crime commissioner has admitted he “can understand” the furore over his appointment – and has pleaded with the public to judge him once his time is up.
Barrie Sheldon, controversially appointed Bill Longmore’s number two this week, said he respects the views of people who have aimed criticism at the duo.
The 57-year-old former detective inspector was handed the role despite the watchdog-style Police and Crime Panel recommending it not go ahead.
He also said Mr Longmore, who originally hired him as his election campaign manager, did not make it widely known he wanted a deputy before the count because “he was not asked”.
In a call to your Worcester News yesterday, Mr Sheldon urged the public to take a view of them down the line.
“We’ve got a job to do for the people of West Mercia and we’ve got an enormous amount of work ahead of us,” he said.
“I would say to people, judge us in three-and-half-years. I am fairly confident we can move on from what I call a blip. Bill did hold some community meetings and told people ‘if I get elected this man will be working alongside me’, but he never used the words ‘deputy’, because he was not asked the question during hustings.
“We are not trying to be silent on anything, the last few days have been exceptionally busy. It’s gone from 6am to sometimes 10pm at night.”
He also said he accepts some criticism the rules surrounding the appointment of deputies could be tightened up. “I accept what people are saying, but you have to remember the process we have followed is laid down in the Police and Social Responsibility Act 2011, and 19 PCCs across the country have got deputies.
“I know a couple are doing it via a more detailed process but I think you’ll find that’s in areas where the PCCs don’t know who to appoint.
“When David Cameron appointed his cabinet, did he do it via a competitive process, or Worcestershire County Council?”
He also said Mr Longmore was “offended” by claims of cronyism, saying that during 11 years together at Staffordshire Police they “hardly ever spoke”. “I joined in 1975 and he retired in 1986, and it was just by fate that we got in touch again,” he said.
He said they got in touch via a Facebook page for retired Staffordshire officers, and Mr Longmore rang him up to say he’d “got an idea” for him.
“He said ‘I have an idea, can I discuss it with you’, so I went to see him and we took it from there. He said he was concerned no independents were standing yet.
“I hope that at the end of these three-and-a-half years we can show evidence to people to say ‘look, this is what we’ve done’. I intend to make a good job of it.”
During the interview he also took a swipe at politicians, saying much of the criticism “is political”, but admitted there was controversy from the public too.
“We’re getting on with the job and I hope people will judge us on what we do,” he said.
The Police and Crime Panel argued Mr Sheldon’s appointment should not go ahead, saying it was not “open or transparent” and that Mr Longmore had not spelt out what the role will be.
The panel also said it was “disappointed” it was not made known before the election what their plans were, and that the £50,000 salary Mr Sheldon is on was too random.
The duo are now drawing up a police and crime plan for the West Mercia force region.
Mr Sheldon retired from policing in 2004 and went on to lecture at Teeside University, before delivering a foundation degree to constables in Shropshire.
Following the interview he went onto Twitter to post: “Worcester News spoken to – let’s hope they start to focus on the real issues i.e drugs, alcohol, anti-social behaviour, policing, etc.”