'Jobs for the boys': Concerns raised as Bedfordshire's police and crime commissioner puts forward his deputy pick

PCC John Tizard with Ms Umme Ali Photo: Labour PartyPCC John Tizard with Ms Umme Ali Photo: Labour Party
PCC John Tizard with Ms Umme Ali Photo: Labour Party
Concerns were raised after Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) selected his deputy.

Yesterday (June 4), the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel was asked to confirm the appointment of PCC John Tizard’s choice of DPCC, Umme Ali.

But panel members raised concerns over whether her other responsibilities would leave her enough time to fulfil the role – and that appointing her without advertising the role could be seen as ‘jobs for the boys’.

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Panel member Mr Lee Melville said: “In a normal world it would be good to recruit and advertise the position because there may be a wider bank of talent that [the PCC] could recruit from.

“And I know that [the PCC] is not required to do that, but from a human resource good practice point of view that would be a good thing.

“I am a little bit concerned about that, and it could be seen as a job for the boys,” he said.

PCC Tizard replied: “On July 5, either Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer will appoint ministers – they will not go through adverts.

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“This is a political appointment and I have gone through the due process, which the majority of PCC do across the country.”

The panel was told that the role will be part time and average out at two days a week.

Councillor Marc Frost (Bedford Borough Council) was concerned about Ms Ali’s other roles.

“Correct me if I’m wrong here, you’ve got a job with the NHS, you’re a councillor, you’re a portfolio holder, you’re involved with a food bank and Luton Citizens Advice,” he said.

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“That’s already a lot of work to do, how are you going to fulfil in this deputy role?” he asked.

Ms Ali replied: “I think my attendance record will show that I’m very committed and not someone to shy away from any extra work.

“I’m someone who likes to keep busy and keep on top of things and doing things all the time.

“Of course that can’t continue in the same way that I’m working already, soI won’t be working full-time anymore.

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“The role of the deputy will be a little bit different in that it won’t need me there every day following John around or going to meetings, or going in place of him.

“It will be having those specific areas of focus where I will take the lead in arranging meetings and meeting with victims groups and meeting with local authority leaders and whatever is needed to carry out that role.

“I need to have very good organisation and time management skills, which I think I’ve exemplified over the last few years I’ve been accountable for.

“I’m sure you as a panel will also be holding me to account if I don’t meet those objectives,” she said.

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Councillor Frost asked: “You’ve got some great aims here, but will it actually be documented in terms of what your specific responsibilities are going to be?”

PCC Tizard said: “Yes.”

Explaining his choice the PCC said: “I wanted to demonstrate that with the appropriate deputy I would have the range of skills,that experience, to fulfil the duty more effectively.

“I sought a candidate who would have the necessary experience, skills, attitude and values to fulfil the role,” he said.

“[Umme] is a person of enormous integrity, somebody who has skills and experience, has achieved a lot in a very short period of time, both on the local authority and more widely.

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“And somebody who can give the necessary time and commitment to the role,” he said.

Jahangir Ahmed, Bedford Borough Council’s head of legal services (interim) told the panel that their options were to approve the candidate, to approve with recommendations, or they can decide not to approve the candidate.

“The PCC doesn’t necessarily have to accept the decision that’s been made by the panel,” he said.

The panel was closed to the public so that it could deliberate its decision, which will be submitted in writing to the PCC at a later date.