Controversy at deputy role in new police team

A Labour councillor was approved for the role of deputy police and crime commissioner by the Beds Police and Crime Panel, amid calls for clarification of what her £36,000 job will entail.

Dallow ward councillor Tafheen Sharif will work four days a week alongside Home Office civil servant Simon Bullock, who will get a £55,000 salary as assistant commissioner.

Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins is facing criticism for appointing his “Labour cronies”, and questions about what the selection process and job descriptions were.

Councillor Fiona Chapman, chair of the Beds Police and Crime Panel said: “With any new role it is important that the highest levels of clarity and transparency are met which is why we requested a job description be developed alongside clarification over the time commitment associated with the role. We feel this will strengthen the arrangements which Commissioner Martins is putting in place for this role. We look forward to receiving this information and to working with the Police and Crime Commissioner and his team in tackling crime and disorder across Bedfordshire.”

Luton resident Roger Turtle said in a letter to the Luton News: “It’s the politicisation of the role we object to, which is in direct contravention of our constituitonal values. It’s clear that Olly Martins values his party connections much more highly than his duty to the people of Bedfordshire.”

Another Lutonian, Ron Turvey, said: “Now he [Mr Martins] has put the seal on the whole contrived joke of impartiality by choosing not one, but two of his Labour cronies to be his deputies.”

The appointment of Councillor Sharif also caused concern about a “Labour-led and urban-based police force”, and Central Beds Councillor Richard Stay said Mr Martins has “missed an opportunity”.

The Conservative councillor said: “I am very sure that Councillor Sharif is a very capable individual but that’s not really the point. This was an opportunity for Mr Martins to demonstrate that he is commissioner for the whole of Bedfordshire.

“I accept Luton has the highest crime rate in Beds but there has to be an equal and fair division of rescources. Anti-social behaviour and low-level crimes can actually have a much bigger impact on smaller communities than bigger ones.

“Most people in Bedfordshire don’t live in Luton. So one of the concerns is that there is the same level of policing outside the metropolitan, else we may end up with an urban police force.”

Mr Martins said he feels Councillor Sharif’s appointment will be of benefit to Bedfordshire residents, and that her job will involve “deputising” and “supporting” him as well as “partnership working and building confident communities.”

He said: “In her role as Deputy Commissioner, Tafheen will be able to draw upon her previous experiences in the community safety arena and utilise her undoubted talent for community engagement to help me deliver my ambitions for policing and community safety in Bedfordshire.

“Taf will use the expertise she already has in relation to community safety in Luton. Taf is also taking a lead on issues of child sexual exploitation and street sex workers.”

> What do you think? Have your say, our contact details are on page 2