THE region’s new police and crime commissioner wants to appoint a deputy on £50,000 a year – with furious critics calling the move “a disgrace”.

Bill Longmore, who became West Mercia Police’s first elected boss last month, is set to appoint his old campaign publicity manager as his number two.

Mr Longmore, who is on £75,000-a-year, wants Barrie Sheldon, a former policeman and university lecturer, to be his deputy.

The two both worked at Staffordshire Police, with Mr Sheldon, aged 57, reaching the rank of detective inspector before retiring in 2004.

He will be asked to work a 37-hour week in return for a basic £50,000 salary plus expenses and a pension.

Critics have called for the move to be scrapped, saying the cash would be better spent on new police officers.

The starting salary for a police constable is £23,500.

Worcester city councillor Richard Boorn, who has been campaigning for a better police presence in his Nunnery ward, said: “We didn’t agree with having a police and crime commissioner anyway, and all this will do is add another layer of bureaucracy.

“The salaries of Bill Longmore and his deputy could have gone on six coppers. I think it’s disgraceful and I can totally understand people being angry with it.”

A meeting is taking place tomorrow at County Hall where the Police and Crime Panel will be asked to express a view.

The panel, which has 17 members, 15 of whom are councillors, is chaired by Paul Middlebrough, the leader of Wychavon District Council.

Mr Sheldon says he will be at the meeting to answer questions on his role.

Coun Middlebrough said: “We have to hear the reasons behind the appointment, but the decision will be Mr Longmore’s.”

Papers prepared for the meeting state Mr Longmore “has known the candidate both professionally and privately”.

Mr Longmore was unavailable for comment yesterday but his office released a statement last night defending the move.

It says: “The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act allows a PCC to appoint a deputy police and crime commissioner if they wish to do so.

“Bill Longmore, who stood as an independent candidate as he believed the new role should not be political, has chosen to do this and has selected someone who holds the same beliefs that he does, and with a strong background in policing.”

The turnout for last month’s election was 14 per cent.

After retiring from the police Mr Sheldon, who lives in Telford, lectured at Teeside University.