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Regional daily fights crime commissioner’s “cronyism”

A regional daily has launched a campaign against cronyism after discovering that many of the new police and crime commissioners are handing out “jobs for the boys”.

The Worcester News has started its “no place for cronies” campaign after reporting that the new West Mercia PCC, Bill Longmore, planned to appoint his old police friend and election agent Barrie Sheldon to the job of deputy, with a salary of £50,000.

The paper is calling on the new PCC to halt the appointment and advertise the post instead, while setting up an independent panel to recommend who is the best person for the deputy’s job.

It also aims to highlight the issue on a wider scale after it has emerged that many PCCs around the country are appointing former colleagues or fellow political party members to become their deputies.

The newly-formed Police and Crime Panel for West Mercia has refused to support Mr Longmore’s choice and the paper has already won the support of three local MPs and a number of council leaders.

Editor Peter John said: “We hope that if we can get Bill Longmore to do the right thing then that message might spread and it could set a precedent for the rest of the PCCs across the country.

“I’ve never known local councillors so publicly angry and outraged than at the PCP meeting where they gave the new PCC a dreadful lashing. Not one letter we have received on this subject is in support of Mr Longmore.

“I seriously doubt the government had this old pals’ act in mind when they came up with the crime commissioner idea. If they did, shame on them.

“It’s not accountability to watch power being abused in this way on the basis that there will be another vote in four years time. It’s just shameless cronyism and complete disregard for the right way to go about appointing people to important positions paid for by the taxpayer.

“If the new PCCs are convinced they know who is the best person for the job, then surely they have nothing to fear from an open and fair selection process. What they have to gain is a public endorsement.”

In a ballot on the News’ website, 93pc of those who took part described the proposed appointment as cronyism.