Police chief’s suspension not ‘necessary’ or ‘proportionate’

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick
Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick

The suspension of the head of Lincolnshire’s police force amid allegations over his conduct was neither ‘necessary’ or ‘proportionate’.

This is the opinion of a team set up to scrutinise the circumstances surrounding the decision by the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Alan Hardwick to suspend Chief Con Neil Rhodes (then temporary Chief Con) in February of last year.

In a report published last week, the so-called ‘Task Group’ said: “In the opinion of the Task Group, there is no doubt that the allegations required investigation – the Task Group, however, do not accept that suspension was necessary or proportionate.”

The decision to suspend Mr Rhodes came as a result of concerns raised by the office of West Yorkshire’s PCC.

Mr Rhodes had contacted the office on behalf of an aggrieved member of staff of West Yorkshire Police through his role as a Chief Police Officers Staff Association ‘friend’.

The PCC’s decision to suspend was overtuned in March following a Judicial Review, during which the judge described the move as ‘irrational and perverse’.

The Task Group estimate the suspension led to costs of more than £165,000 – including £20,000 from their own review.

It said: “If the PCC had allowed more time for appropriate research, consultation and advice this would, in our view, have prevented the damaging and costly legal action which followed.”

Their report contains numerous recommendations, including getting expert legal advice before such decisions are made.

Mr Hardwick said he had noted the contents and recommendations of the Task Group’s report.

He added: “The chief constable and I moved on some time ago from the difficulties of last year.”