UPDATED: Panel against deputy police commissioner appointment

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The chairman of the Sussex Police and Crime Panel has said the panel does not approve of the Commissioner’s appointment of the Deputy Police Commissioner.

The Panel held a meeting on Thursday February 7 at County Hall, Lewes, at which Members were asked to consider the proposed appointment of Steve Waight as a full-time Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.

Panel chairman Brad Watson OBE (West Sussex County Councillor for Southwater and Nuthurst), announced today (Monday February 11) that the Panel had decided not to recommend the appointment of Mr Waight, who is also a councillor for Adur and Worthing Borough Council. Both Mr Waight and Commissioner Bourne were notified and later Mrs Bourne said she was standing by her decision.

The Panel can only scrutinise the decision, and has no power of veto. The final choice of whether to appoint a Deputy Police Commissioner, and who that might be, rests with the Commissioner.

After questioning Mr Waight and the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, the Panel went into closed session to consider its decision. Commenting on the reasons for the decision, Brad Watson said: “We were concerned that Mr Waight would not be able to devote enough time to this demanding job, given his commitment to other local authorities.

He added: “The fact that we felt unable to recommend the proposed appointment clearly demonstrates that the Panel is acting as it should – as a scrutiny body independent of the Commissioner.

“To those who might see this as creating a rift between the Commissioner and the Police and Crime Panel, I would say – nothing could be further from the truth. Our role is to act as a critical friend, and this is precisely what we have done in this instance.

“We will continue to work closely with the Commissioner, and respect any decision she makes.”

Commenting on the conclusions of the Panel, Commissioner Bourne said: “I am grateful for the considerations of the Panel regarding my proposed appointment.

“I have now carefully considered their points and have decided to formally appoint Mr Steve Waight as Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner.

“I am confident that his proven ability and experience will enable him to fulfil the role to the high standard required for the people of Sussex. He has a proven track record at a senior level in police governance, public sector finance and working with local people and communities. Furthermore, I am confident that his public duties as a Councillor will enhance his role.

“In accordance with my drive for transparency and taking into consideration the concerns raised by the Panel, I will continue to monitor his performance and time commitment and this will be available for public scrutiny.”

Adding to the Commissioner’s comments, Steve Waight said: “I am looking forward to getting on with the job and supporting the Commissioner in working with the police, partners and the people of Sussex.”