Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Alan Hardwick, has formally apologised to Chief Constable Neil Rhodes for his part in the suspension row that engulfed the force last year. Mr Hardwick also offered his apologies to the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel, which had demanded an apology at their meeting on February 6.
In his letter to Chief Constable Rhodes, Mr Hardwick said: “Now that the Police and Crime Panel Task Group has issued its report, I consider that we can now definitively draw a line under the issues around the allegation made by Fraser Sampson, the investigation and suspension, and I want to express my thanks to you for how you have conducted yourself through difficult times.
“I also want to express how sorry I am that you and your family ultimately endured an experience and anxiety which were never my intention. My apology is sincere and unreserved.
“My intent was always to discharge my functions as PCC and to deal with the matters in hand appropriately and in as timely a fashion as possible.”
The full text of Mr Hardwick’s letter to Mr Rhodes can be found on the Police and Crime Commissioner website.
Mr Hardwick also wrote to Chair of The Police and Crime Panel, Norman Norris, and said: “I have always sought to do the right thing as I go about discharging every aspect of my duties.
“However, I am very happy to apologise to anyone who feels an apology is deserved, and I apologised to the Chief Constable for the impact that the issues of 2013 have had on him and his family.”
The suspension and subsequent investigation has cost the taxpayer over £165,000 in legal fees and professional services, which will come from the PCC’s office budget.
The Police and Crime Panel later responded to Mr Hardwick’s letter of apology.
They replied: “As a Panel, our role is to scrutinise and support the Commissioner in his duties and we have looked closely at the events surrounding the suspension of the Chief Constable and the costs incurred and we believe there are lessons to be learned, as detailed in our Task Group report.
“The Panel is pleased the Commissioner has today apologised to the Chief Constable. It was important a full and sincere apology was made to the Chief Constable for the anxiety caused to him and his family during 2013. As stated in our Task Group report, we still believe some of the expenditure that was incurred through the suspension could and should have been avoided.
“The Panel acknowledges that the Commissioner has offered an apology to anyone who feels an apology is deserved; however, the Panel still expects to see an apology given to the people of Lincolnshire as per its formal request.
“We also hope the Commissioner will take on board the recommendations made in the report, which will go some way to preventing a similar situation in the future.”