Shropshire crime chief Bill Longmore defends bid to appoint deputy

Shropshire’s new police and crime commissioner today defended his controversial attempt to appoint his election agent as his deputy on £50,000-a-year.

Bill Longmore
Bill Longmore

Bill Longmore, of Hanwood, near Shrewsbury, wants to give the job to fellow ex-policeman Barrie Sheldon, who lives in Telford.

But West Mercia Police and Crime Panel has delayed its decision, voicing concern at the nature of the selection process.

Now Mr Longmore, who is PCC for the West Mercia force area, has come out fighting in support of Mr Sheldon.

He said: “I announced my proposal to appoint Barrie Sheldon as deputy PCC for West Mercia to the police and crime panel within a week of taking up my post.

“On December 5, I met with the panel to answer their questions regarding his appointment.

“The panel is required by law to issue a report outlining their recommendation as to whether Barrie should be appointed as deputy PCC.

“I am disappointed that I have not yet received their report and I urge the panel to send it to me as a matter of urgency.

“I am unable, by law, to confirm the appointment of a deputy PCC until I have considered their report.

“I am aware the appointment of deputy PCCs is a controversial issue nationally but I have no doubt that one is vital to assist me to discharge the major responsibilities that the Government has set, as do a considerable number of other PCCs.

“West Mercia is a huge area and there is simply no way I could do justice to the one million plus people right across the counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire working on my own.”

He added that Mr Sheldon has the credentials for the job having once been a lecturer in policing.

He was also a junior colleague of Mr Longmore’s more than 30 years ago.

Mr Longmore said: “It was only about six months ago that I contacted him to assist in my election campaign. I was extremely impressed with the job that he did and subsequently invited him to act as my deputy. ”

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, which paved the way for police authorities to be replaced with elected police commissioners, allows a PCC to appoint a deputy.