Bedfordshire Police take complaint about being treated “unfairly” to Parliament

Kathryn Holloway PNL-170220-115827001
Kathryn Holloway PNL-170220-115827001

A row between Beds Police and their inspectors could be taken to Parliament, after more than two years of argument.

Bedfordshire’s chief constable and police and crime commissioner first complained about the Inspector of Constabularies in July 2017, claiming that they were being treated “unfairly” by inspector Zoe Billingham.

That led to an independent investigation by one of the most experienced QCs in the country.

But instead of publishing that report, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) have instead published their own report.

Commissioner Kathryn Holloway told the Times & Citizen: “I have waited for more than two years for HMICFRS to finally respond publicly.

“The Chief Inspector of Constabularies, Sir Tom Winsor, has now published his interpretation of events, which I do not recognise.

“Sir Tom engaged one of the most experienced QCs in the country to lead a lengthy independent investigation into my complaint. Yet instead of publishing Mr Kark QC’s independent report, Sir Tom has chosen instead to publish his own findings.

“Bedfordshire Police’s former chief constable, Mr Jon Boutcher, also raised a formal complaint with HMICFRS concerning HMI Billingham and we are now calling on Sir Tom Winsor to publish the executive findings of Mr Kark QC’s independent report concerning both of our complaints.”

Commissioner Holloway now wants the issue to be looked at by the Home Affairs Select Committee, a group of MPs who review matters relating to the Home Office.

She added: “We do not accept that sending HMI Billingham - a senior public official required by her Terms of Engagement to observe the Nolan Principles at all times - on a management course, is an appropriate sanction by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector in response to our complaints.

“Jon Boutcher and I will now be inviting the Home Affairs Select Committee to review this matter and to consider Sir Tom’s handling of our complaints in the light of all of the evidence, together with the worrying lack of a transparent complaints process at HMICFRS.”

HMICFRS have been approached for comment.