Panel asks Lincolnshire Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick to apologise to Chief Constable over suspension

Grantham Police Station. Neil Rhodes and Alan Hardwick. 255D
Grantham Police Station. Neil Rhodes and Alan Hardwick. 255D
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The Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel has formally accepted a report produced by its Task Group, which has reviewed what lessons can be learned from the decision of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Alan Hardwick, to suspend the then Temporary Chief Constable, Neil Rhodes.

The Panel also voted in favour of requesting a written apology from Mr Hardwick for the “whole unhappy episode”.

The Panel accepted the report’s findings at Tedder Hall, in Manby, yesterday afternoon (Thursday February 7). Mr Hardwick was not present for the discussion of the report.

Mr Rhodes was suspended by the newly elected PCC Alan Hardwick in February last year, over his involvement in an employment dispute. Claims of misconduct against Mr Rhodes have since been deemed “unsubstantiated” by an independent inquiry.

Mr Rhodes was reinstated into his role in March. He has since been appointed as permanent Chief Constable, with both himself and Mr Hardwick publicly expressing their wish to draw a line under the matter.

Since being formed in May, the Task Group has followed a thorough and detailed process, interviewing key witnesses and reviewing information from a range of sources before drawing together a series of recommendations and lessons it feels need to be learned for the future. The motion was passed with no objections.

Councillor Ray Wootten, who proposed the motion to accept the report’s recommendations, also led a separate motion to request an apology from Mr Hardwick for his conduct during “the whole unhappy episode” of suspension, to both Mr Rhodes and the Panel. The motion was passed by the Panel.

Chairman of the Panel, Norman Norris, said: “In view of the comments that have been fed through members of the community to various members [of the Panel], I can only say that I think it is a matter of extreme regret that legislation does not provide the Panel with the ability to impose any form of censure or sanction.

“In other words, really, we have no teeth in this matter. I repeat, I think that is a matter of extreme regret, because in my view it undermines the credibility of the Panel, and it tends to devalue the good work that the Task Group has done.”

He added: “Police and Crime Panels have a vital role to play in both holding the Commissioner to account for his actions and supporting him in his duties. In Lincolnshire, we take that role very seriously.

“I’d like to thank the members of the Task Group for their hard work over recent months in pulling together this detailed, informative and carefully written report.

“It is clear that lessons need to be learned from what happened in Lincolnshire and we hope the recommendations we have today endorsed are implemented in full by the organisations and individuals concerned.”