Matthew Grove appoints 'critical friend' Paul Robinson deputy police commissioner - despite panel's opposition (updated)
HUMBERSIDE Police commissioner Matthew Grove has gone against the wishes of a crime panel to appoint East Riding councillor Paul Robinson his deputy.
Mr Grove made the controversial appointment last night, snubbing the recommendations of the police and crime panel set up to oversee his role.
Although the panel had no legal powers to veto Mr Robinson, it had expressed disquiet over Mr Grove’s choice for the £45,000-a-year job, citing "legitimate concerns".
Mr Grove had already been accused of cronyism over his choice of Mr Robinson, a fellow Tory councillor at East Riding Council, for deputy just weeks after taking on the role of police and crime commissioner.
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However, last night, Mr Grove insisted Mr Robinson, who played a major role in his election to the role of police and crime commissioner, would act as a "critical friend."
Mr Grove said: "I need someone who I have total trust and confidence in. My judgment is that Paul fits this role and can deliver everything I need to be delivered.
"I know Paul's vast experience, skills and deep understanding of community safety issues fit the role of deputy."
Last week, eight members of the police and crime panel voted against the proposed appointment of Mr Robinson, with just one member supporting it.
At the time, panel chairman Councillor David Rudd said: "This is about ensuring we get the best appointment for the entire area and we cannot support the nomination.
"We recognise it remains the commissioner's decision whether to accept or reject our recommendation but it is our role to scrutinise in line with the powers we have and voice what we believe are legitimate concerns."
Mr Grove said he had been "astounded" by the panel's decision and, last night, he announced he would still appoint Mr Robinson his deputy after taking five days to consider the recommendations.
He said: "I represent 900,000 people in an area of 1,350sq miles on two banks of the Humber, where more than 70,000 crimes are reported each year.
"The enormity of this role is not lost on me and I need a deputy I can rely on to challenge me on the big issues, to be a critical friend and lead on significant areas of work on my behalf."
In an attempt to take the sting out of his decision to overrule the recommendation, Mr Grove paid tribute to the panel's "robust, considered challenge" to his decision to appoint Mr Robinson as deputy.
He acknowledged his decision to press ahead with Mr Robinson in the key role was a "significant judgment call" on his part.
However, he said his decision had been based on his years of close friendship with Mr Robinson.
"I recognise that the members of the panel had only a 12-page report and a 30-minute questioning session with Paul to base their recommendation on," Mr Grove said.
"I have seriously considered their views but my judgment is based upon significant knowledge of Paul, my personal experience and honest belief in him."
Mr Grove said Mr Robinson's appointment as deputy would be reviewed in a year.
During last week's panel hearing, Hull City Councillor Mike Ross had asked Mr Grove if he would accept whatever the panel recommended.
Mr Grove told him: "I absolutely respect this panel. You are here to be that probing, questioning voice for the people and I don't have a problem with that.
"I am absolutely clear I will very, very carefully consider any recommendation you make and take that into account but, ultimately, I am empowered to make the right decision.
"I have to do the right thing and I have to respect your position to be that questioning voice."