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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Inquiry into Cumbria top cop Hyde goes on

CUMBRIA’S crime commissioner says it’s still unclear when the inquiry will be finished into allegations against the county’s suspended chief constable.

Richard Rhodes added he has not spoken to Stuart Hyde, who has been away from his post for nearly four months, since being elected to the new commissioner role, saying it would not be appropriate in the circumstances.

But he stressed steps had been taken to make sure somebody was “talking to” Mr Hyde at what he said was “a difficult time” for the police chief.

Mr Rhodes, beginning his first calendar year in the job, also told of plans for a series of meetings in the forthcoming weeks where the public could give their views as he puts together his policing plan.

He was elected in November to a role that gives him powers to hire and fire chief constables, set policing priorities and force budgets.

Mr Hyde was suspended two months before following allegations of serious misconduct.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission later said the allegations did not “amount to serious misconduct” – or were “based on unsupported suspicion”.

It did add “some matters may require an investigation” and an inquiry is now being carried out by Peter Vaughan, the chief constable of South Wales Police.

Mr Rhodes said the Welsh force were in regular contact but had not yet finished their inquiry. His job at the moment was to review the suspension every four weeks, with the next review due on January 16.

On the issue of contact between himself and Mr Hyde, Mr Rhodes said: “I think in the circumstances that wouldn’t be appropriate.

“We have taken steps to ensure there is somebody who is talking to him, in a sense to be of assistance to him, during what everybody realises is a difficult time for him.”

South Wales Police declined to comment when contacted by The Cumberland News.

Mr Rhodes’ priorities include tackling crime hotspots, anti-social behaviour and the underlying causes of crime, such as alcohol abuse.

He also wants to:

Set up an office of public engagement using public events, the media and contact from residents to find out their experiences of policing and their concerns;

Establish an office of victim support, which will look into victims’ needs and services;

Develop more use of restorative justice, where offenders are made to answer to their victims.

Look at youth offending and the needs of armed forces veterans, who are disproportionately likely to end up in prison.

A five-year policing and crime plan has to be completed in the next two months and he said he would be listening to the views of the public by getting out-and-about in the coming weeks.

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