Commissioner under fire for ‘disruptive’ act

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Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has been slammed by MPs over the “potentially disruptive and costly” suspension of Chief Constable Neil Rhodes.

A report by the Home Affairs Select Committee said Alan Hardwick’s decision to suspend Mr Rhodes from duty in February was “damaging to the reputation of the police force.”

Mr Hardwick was also accused of leaving people “in the dark” over the reasons for the suspension, including Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel whose members were heavily criticised for taking more than two months to meet and discuss the Commissioner’s actions.

The report published after both Mr Hardwick and panel chairman Coun Ray Wootten gave evidence to MPs at Westminster blamed the delay on “erroneous legal advice” that Mr Rhodes’s suspension couldn’t be investigated.

In their report, MPs said: “We were concerned by the suspension of Chief Constable Neil Rhodes by Alan Hardwick, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire.

“This kind of intervention is potentially operationally disruptive, costly and damaging to the reputation of the police force and the individuals concerned.

“The public was left in the dark about the reasons for the suspension and the Police and Crime Panel took no action to avert or even review an intervention that was ultimately thrown out of court.

“The Police and Crime Panel seemed totally incapacitated by erroneous legal advice that it was unable to investigate the Commissioner’s course of action so that he did not even appear before the panel for over two months.”

Mr Hardwick told the Free Press: “I absolutely take on board the committee’s comments and criticisms, but I don’t think it helps to rake over the past.”