Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's High Time for Police Forces to Put the Public First; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's High Time for Police Forces to Put the Public First; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Troy

NEVER before in the history of law and order in Britain has there been an instance where both a chief constable and his deputy have been arrested.

Up until last month never had the country's most senior police officer, the Met Commissioner, and an assistant commissioner both resigned under heavy clouds within 24 hours of each other. It is hardly surprising that public confidence in the police has reached an all-time low.

Cleveland Police - whose motto is "putting people first" - are no strangers to high-profile internal investigations that have shattered the confidence of local people. However, events in Middlesbrough this week where Sean Price and Derek Bonnard, respectively chief and deputy, were arrested by officers under the leadership of the Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police, are unprecedented.

The two men were held overnight and released yesterday as a part of an investigation into fraud and corruption.

Former force solicitor Caroline Llewellyn, who recently received pounds 213,379 in a voluntary redundancy payoff, was also arrested. Subsequently, the Cleveland Police Authority (CPA) - the force's governing body - suspended the two officers. Sources say that this was done speedily in anticipation of the authority itself being suspended, as part of the investigation. The chairman of the authority resigned three months ago when he too came under investigation.

Reports suggest that there has been an investigation since May, initiated by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and conducted by Warwickshire Police. Local sources, however, suggest that the inquiries started informally about February.

Sean Price was paid a salary of pounds 191,905 last year, including, we are told, a payment of pounds 54,421, which the police authority paid him to stop him being poached by other forces. Rather than poached, he now faces the possibility of being fried - along with the reputation of his force.

Price, who has headed Cleveland Police for eight years, was already being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission over the allegation he used "undue influence" to shoehorn into a police job the daughter of the CPA's former chairman, Dave McLuckie. …

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