The announcement that Meredydd Hughes is to seek the Labour nomination for the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner election is no surprise. It is no secret that senior Labour figures have been pushing for Mr Hughes’ nomination for some time, waiting for the right moment to announce his intention to stand.
The right time has come now that South Yorkshire Police have managed to find someone willing to become Chief Constable. Only one candidate emerged from a long process involving re-advertisement of the post in October 2011.
A second candidate who applied subsequently made an unexpected withdrawal, leaving a single applicant.It is now clear why this was. The prospect of Med Hughes being ‘the real Chief Constable’ of South Yorkshire would risk undermining the credibility of the incumbent. David Crompton, the new Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, has already been deputy in West Yorkshire and, if Meredydd Hughes is elected, could be perceived to be once again a deputy. Staff recruited and promoted by Med Hughes would inevitably have feelings of loyalty to him, potentially damaging the authority of Mr Crompton.
An ex-Chief Constable should not be running for Police Commissioner in the area he commanded, especially so soon after retirement. David Crompton’s job will be tough enough without the previous Chief Constable looking over his shoulder as he changes the policies that the ex-Chief championed.Labour in South Yorkshire has the opportunity to choose a candidate who would enhance the role of Police and Crime Commissioner, not usurp the authority of the Chief Constable.
A PCC who was the Chief Constable the year before offers only ‘more of the same’.Liberal Democrats in South Yorkshire are deciding whether to stand a candidate in the election and the result will be announced soon. An alternative would be an independent who could draw support from all parties and all sections of the community. The debate about crime needs to be widened, not narrowed to policing procedures, and we feel that Mr Hughes’ successful nomination would be bad for South Yorkshire’s Police and bad for the community at large.