A complaint against the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales for pressing ahead with the appointment of a new chief executive has been rejected.
The decision was welcomed by Winston Roddick CB QC who said it would have been unlawful for him not to do so.
Mr Roddick advertised the job after the former chief executive, Anna Humphreys applied for and was granted voluntary redundancy instead of returning to her post after her period of maternity leave.
The voluntary redundancy scheme was set up by North Wales Police and members of staff in the commissioner’s office were also eligible to apply. In all, 206 members of staff applied and 36 were approved including Anna Humphrey’s application which satisfied the scheme in every respect.
The complaint was made to the Police and Crime Panel. It was looked into by the Conwy County Borough Council’s solicitor, Richard Jarvis who found that everything was “proper and appropriate.”
The Wales Audit Office also conducted an initial review and felt the process had been “sound and appropriate”.
A number of politicians protested the appointment should be put on hold until after the elections for police and crime commissioners in May and a complaint was emailed to the chair of the Police and Crime Panel, Glenys Diskin. One of these politicians said Mr Roddick should be his own chief executive.
The legislation which created police and crime commissioners places a legal requirement on them to have a chief executive who also acts as a monitoring officer to ensure the commissioners act within the law at all times. The law prohibits the police commissioners being their own chief executives.
In a report to the North Wales Police and Crime Panel, Mr Jarvis revealed Mr Roddick’s decision would lead to a saving of £5,000 in the first year and £25,000 a year after that as a result of being able to dispense with the post of the deputy chief executive.
Mr Jarvis said: “Given that the role of Chief Executive of the OPCC (Office of Police and Crime Commissioner) is a statutory post, the PCC had no option but to recruit a new permanent Chief Executive.
“The PCC decided to recruit immediately as it was six month process and it did not make business or legal sense to wait until the outcome of the elections in May 2016. The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners shared that view.
“The Panel is of the opinion that the PCC’s conduct has been appropriate and proper under the circumstances. Ms Humphreys applied for voluntary redundancy, met the required criteria and the PCC had no option but to sanction the request.”
Mr Roddick said: “The criticism of my decision was driven by politics and not the public interest. It was staggering that they were trying to persuade a police and crime commissioner to break the law. If ever there was a good example for having an independent commissioner this is it
“I had no option in this matter because it would have been unlawful and therefore totally irresponsible not to appoint a chief executive.
“The legislation clearly states that I am required to have one and I informed the Police and Crime panel in December that was my intention. However, because a formal complaint was made to the Panel it had to be looked into independently for the sake of transparency.
“I would point out the successful candidate will be £15,000 a year less expensive than the chief executive of the former police authority who received £90,000 a year. “The salary is on a par with what is paid elsewhere and a great deal less than in some areas.
“Another relevant point to make is that I am the least expensive Police and Crime Commissioner in Wales and the second least expensive in England and Wales.
“When it comes to value for money these facts speak for themselves.
“The successful candidate will carry out the duties of chief executive and monitoring officer whose job it will be to ensure that the law is complied with in every respect as part of the checks and balances set out in the legislation which created police and crime commissioners. The role will also include being head of paid staff in my office.”