Report criticises panel

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Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Panel has been criticised in a government report for leaving the public ‘in the dark’ when handling the controversial suspension of the county’s chief constable.

The Home Affairs Committee’s Police and Crime Commissioner report, published on Thursday, highlighted Lincolnshire as an example of why police and crime panels ‘may need to take a quicker and more decisive approach’.

Lincolnshire police and crime commissioner Alan Hardwick’s decision to suspend his chief constable Neil Rhodes was branded ‘irrational and perverse’ by a High Court judge in March.

Mr Rhodes has since returned to duty but the committee’s report criticised the panel for its failure to meet for more than two months after the suspension ‘with the chair citing legal advice as the reason he was unable to convene a meeting’.

“The police and crime panel seemed totally incapacitated by erroneous legal advice that it was unable to investigate the commissioner’s course of action, so that the PCC did not even appear before the panel for over two months,” the report said.

The PCP chairman Coun Ray Wootten recently stood down from the role after his grilling by MPs over the debacle earlier this month.

Speaking after his decision Coun Wootten said: “I believe that I inadvertently gave the incorrect impression that I was not allowed to hold an extraordinary meeting of the Police and Crime Panel. I now accept that this was incorrect.”

Lincolnshire’s panel is operated by East Lindsey District Council and is responsible for scrutinising the actions of the PCC.