Wednesday, 19 April 2017

What is the Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner up to?

Cllr David Keane, Cheshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Warrington Borough Councillor (Penketh and Cuerdley ward) and Penketh Parish Councillor (East Ward) is worrying me greatly at the moment.

First we've had his decision to appoint a Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.  He chose to appoint the daughter of Cllrs Allin and Linda Dirir who happen to be, along with Cllr Keane Warrington Borough Councillors for the Penketh and Cuerdley ward and also Penketh Parish Councillors - also serving for that parish's East Ward also along with Cllr Keane and Cllr Keane's wife.

The Commissioner earns £75,000 pa.  His deputy was recruited on a salary of £50,000.  Cllr Keane also receives his £7,947pa allowance from Warrington Borough Council.   At the time of her appointment the then Cllr S Dirir from Salford City Council was also drawing an allowance of £10,404.84 from Salford City Council.   At the time of the recruitment the Commissioner and his Deputy were drawing over £143,000 combined from the public purse.  Even after Cllr S Dirir's subsequent resignation from Salford City Council they are drawing nearly £133,000 between them.

I serve on the Police and Crime Panel - the scrutiny body that has the opportunity to ask the Commissioner questions every three months or so.  We also get the opportunity to make recommendations about the Commissioner's decision to appoint senior personnel such as a Deputy Commissioner.  We cannot veto or block his suggested appointments for his deputy - we can only make recommendations and provide advice.  The letter of advice we subsequently provided indicated, amongst other things, that the panel had identified that Ms Dirir had no real experience of Criminal Justice and had simply met the minimum standards recommended.

If you have 50 minutes or so to spare you might like to watch Ms Dirir's confirmation hearing.  At the time of that hearing (22 February 2017) she was still a Salford Councillor (she has since resigned from that post.   This is the link to that webcast:   https://cheshirewestandchester.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/272335 .

As the video was produced live by CWaC you can search through the video to see the questions asked by particular people.  I suggest the interactions between Cllr Findlow and Ms Dirir and her answers to my series of questions may prove quite illuminating.

As you'll see if you watch the video neither the Commissioner, nor Ms Dirir told us in advance of the meeting that they had known each other for 20 years, nor was it disclosed to us in advance that Ms Dirir was the daughter of Cllr Keane's co-Councillors for Penketh.

You can find the committee papers, agenda etc at this link:
http://moderngov.cheshireeast.gov.uk/ecminutes/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=864&MId=6769&Ver=4

Cllr Keane's first appearance before the Police and Crime Panel after his appointment of Ms Dirir to be his deputy came on 24 March.  This meeting was also webcast.   Here is the link to the webcast: https://cheshirewestandchester.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/280070 - however as this webcast was not broadcast live - it lacks the links to the individual speakers.

This was the panel's first opportunity to question him following the appointment of his Deputy - and his announcement made just before the 24 March meeting - that the Commissioner was to move his base of operations from Police headquarters in Winsford - to Stockton Heath, Warrington - a mere 4 miles away from Penketh.   Cllr Keane had not provided the Police and Crime Panel with his business case for relocating his office to Stockton Heath - he was asked by a number of members about it.

This link will take you to my first exchange I had with the Commissioner after he had not agreed to provide his business case to other colleagues. https://vimeo.com/213825907. This is all about the Nolan principles and him being open to scrutiny.

Later in the meeting I had an opportunity to ask Cllr Keane about the appointment of his Deputy.  Here is a link to those exchanges.  https://vimeo.com/213825927  This exchange was all about his Oath of Office and the Code of Ethics he had sworn to uphold.

The Commissioner Code of Ethics can be found at this link.  https://www.cheshire-pcc.gov.uk/media/81162/ethical-framework-and-code-of-conduct_pcc-dpcc-code-of-conduct.pdf

My final exchange with the Commissioner at the 24 March meeting can be seen here.
https://vimeo.com/213825964

Notwithstanding his promises I have not received any documentation from him subsequently.

The Commissioner is now looking to recruit a chief of staff.