MPs to look into top cop’s suspension ‘soap opera’

Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee whose members plan to visit Lincolnshire as part of an inquiry into Police and Crime Commissioners.
Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee whose members plan to visit Lincolnshire as part of an inquiry into Police and Crime Commissioners.

Hopes of an end to the saga surrounding the suspension and reinstatement of Lincolnshire Police Chief Constable Neil Rhodes have been dashed by MPs at Westminster.

Members of the Home Affairs Select Committee plan to visit Lincolnshire later this year to meet Mr Rhodes as part of an inquiry into Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in England and Wales.

They also plan to meet with Lincolnshire PCC Alan Hardwick and members of the county’s Police and Crime Panel (PCP) who were strongly criticised by MPs over their handling of Mr Rhodes’ suspension in February.

A delay of more than months by panel members to question Mr Hardwick about his decision to suspend Mr Rhodes over a misconduct allegation meant “the public was left in the dark,” according to a report by the committee.

MPs also criticised Mr Hardwick himself for his “potentially disruptive and costly” decision to suspend Mr Rhodes.

In an interview this week, committee chairman Keith Vaz MP said: “We are starting a major inquiry into PCCs and we will be coming to Lincolnshire to talk to the parties concerned.

“It is worrying that PCCs seem able to side-step the statutory process for suspending or dismissing a chief constable, so Police and Crime Panels should make more active use of their powers to scrutinise decisions such as this.

“It’s been something of a soap opera in Lincolnshire but perhaps people who didn’t even know they had a PCC before this started certainly know it now.”

Mr Rhodes was reinstated in March and a report clearing him of any misconduct was published last week by an inquiry team headed up by Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy.

But a Lincolnshire PCP task group is looking into the saga and interim chairman Norman Norris said: “The Panel is pleased the PCC has published the full report following Sir Peter’s investigation which we are scrutinising.”