Gwent police and crime commissioner Ian Johnston promises probe of forced retirement rule

IAN JOHNSTON became Gwent's new police and crime commissioner after the result's of the historic first election for the role were revealed today - and promised to examine a rule which forces officers to retire after 30 years' service.

The independent candidate and former Gwent Police senior policeman from Oakdale, beat Labour's Hamish Sandison in a massive disappointment for the party.

The newly-elected commissioner, 60, has told the Argus that he wants to review regulations that allow police officers to be compulsory retired after 30 years, but says he won't stop police station front desk closures.

The former chief superintendent insists he has a mandate – despite being elected by just 7.01 per cent of the 424,353-strong electorate with turnout woeful across Gwent at just 14.3 per cent.

Under his new role Mr Johnston will be responsible for holding the police to account in Gwent, taking over the job of the Gwent Police Authority, will set the force's budget and will be able to hire and fire the chief constable.

The result was announced yesterday at Newport's Velodrome – where early on in the counting local Labour actvisits were weary that it would be a close call.

After first preferences across Gwent were counted Mr Johnston was just 444 votes ahead at 23,531 to Hamish Sandison's 23,087.

But when second preferences for those who backed third-place Tory Nick Webb and fourth-place independent Chris Wright came into the picture it came increasingly clear that their voters had overwhelmingly backed Mr Johnston.

In the end the ex-top cop won the race with just 29,748 votes against Mr Sandison's 24,636.

The newly elected commissioner said: "It was a very close run thing in the end.

"I do feel I have got a mandate. Fourteen per cent [turnout] was really disappointing but I don't think now is the time to score cheap political points, in respect of how the election has been managed by the government.

"Thankfully I've won and its now time to get on with the job on behalf of the people of Gwent."

The police and crime commissioner said he is going to review a regulation that allows police officers to be compulsory retired after 30 years: "It's a very blunt instrument and I don't think we need to use it in the way we are, so I'm going to review it."

Mr Johnston said he was not going to stop the front desk closure programme, but would be speaking to the Gwent Police chief officer team about the rationale behind them and about the communication with communities and elected officials like AMs and MPs over the issue..

He added that while he would review the decision to make 15 of Gwent's 30 Custody Detention Officers redundant, he said he had no plans to reverse it.

He said he will meet chief constable Carmel Napier on Monday and will take time to see police authority staff, who are to transfer to the new police and crime commissioner office, who he will tell that their jobs are safe.

Mr Johnston said that he will not yet reveal who he is to appoint as a deputy until he tells the Gwent police and crime panel – a body that will scrutinise the commissioner – who it is.

Mr Johnston, who was awarded the Queen's Police Medal in 2003, served in all ranks from constable to chief superintendent and was head of CID in Gwent between 1995 and 1999.

As a senior detective Mr Johnston dealt with a number of high profile murder cases, including the case of Tyrone France whose remains were found in Wentwood Forest.

Labour candidate Mr Sandison told the Argus he was very disappointed with the result, and said the most important reason for his defeat was that people didn't have enough information about candidates or the job.

"Some people saw the job as a policing role, while I saw the job and I think the legislation is clear as about holding the police to account," he said.

"I think all the candidates ran a good campaign but we were all handicapped by a lack of information."

Comments (10)

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7:33pm Fri 16 Nov 12

Lenin says...

So our newly appointed Commissioner will "review" planned redundancies and front desk closures, but has no plans to reverse them. No wonder the turnout was so low, people knew that the post was toothless and pointless.
So our newly appointed Commissioner will "review" planned redundancies and front desk closures, but has no plans to reverse them. No wonder the turnout was so low, people knew that the post was toothless and pointless. Lenin
  • Score: 0

10:14pm Fri 16 Nov 12

Dave Angel says...

Congratulations to Mr Johnston, a tough job ahead of you. Lenins post "toothless and pointless" !, the man hasn't even taken up the role yet and you see fit to disrespect his position.

By reviewing planned redundacies but not having plans to reverse them may mean Mr Johnson feels this is the sensible way forward, after all the purse is empty and more money needs to be saved.

If you want to see toothless and pointless then call for a PCSO or a Detention Officer when a crime is being committed and you require a bone fide Police Officer.

With a more local direct governance of the police this PCC has a duty to represent the public and not the civilian staff looking to line their own pockets and acrue a handsome pension without having to do real police work.

As for the poor turnout of the electorate surely this is general apathy. If you are really interested in the way the police are run then you would have researched all candidates. Funny how people seem to have time and patience to research their next toaster on the internet but not their elective representitive.
Congratulations to Mr Johnston, a tough job ahead of you. Lenins post "toothless and pointless" !, the man hasn't even taken up the role yet and you see fit to disrespect his position. By reviewing planned redundacies but not having plans to reverse them may mean Mr Johnson feels this is the sensible way forward, after all the purse is empty and more money needs to be saved. If you want to see toothless and pointless then call for a PCSO or a Detention Officer when a crime is being committed and you require a bone fide Police Officer. With a more local direct governance of the police this PCC has a duty to represent the public and not the civilian staff looking to line their own pockets and acrue a handsome pension without having to do real police work. As for the poor turnout of the electorate surely this is general apathy. If you are really interested in the way the police are run then you would have researched all candidates. Funny how people seem to have time and patience to research their next toaster on the internet but not their elective representitive. Dave Angel
  • Score: 0

10:24pm Fri 16 Nov 12

GwentVoice says...

All he is going to do is look after the officers! This is not what the commissioner is about!!!

Try fighting to save the force that has been systematically decimated by a Chief Officer Group that has no loyalty to Gwent! Otherwise why are you doing the job.

Same old Same old - One of the Boys, Always One of the Boys
All he is going to do is look after the officers! This is not what the commissioner is about!!! Try fighting to save the force that has been systematically decimated by a Chief Officer Group that has no loyalty to Gwent! Otherwise why are you doing the job. Same old Same old - One of the Boys, Always One of the Boys GwentVoice
  • Score: 0

10:53pm Fri 16 Nov 12

Dixie Smith says...

Get rid of the PCSOs complete waste of time and space in my view. I want to see real police on the streets (and not in their cars) patrolling.
Get rid of the PCSOs complete waste of time and space in my view. I want to see real police on the streets (and not in their cars) patrolling. Dixie Smith
  • Score: 0

11:25am Sat 17 Nov 12

On the inside says...

So there we have it. First idea stop forced retirement. I'll bet he is on first name terms with every Gwent copper coming up to 30 years service.
So there we have it. First idea stop forced retirement. I'll bet he is on first name terms with every Gwent copper coming up to 30 years service. On the inside
  • Score: 0

5:13pm Sat 17 Nov 12

Limestonecowboy says...

On the inside wrote:
So there we have it. First idea stop forced retirement. I'll bet he is on first name terms with every Gwent copper coming up to 30 years service.
Don't understand your point whats wrong with challenging this forced retirement rule?
[quote][p][bold]On the inside[/bold] wrote: So there we have it. First idea stop forced retirement. I'll bet he is on first name terms with every Gwent copper coming up to 30 years service.[/p][/quote]Don't understand your point whats wrong with challenging this forced retirement rule? Limestonecowboy
  • Score: 0

5:33pm Sat 17 Nov 12

Robindabank says...

The role of the Commissioner must surely be like that of a non executive chairman......starti
ng with a 'probe into forced retirement' sounds far too operational. Isn't a fundamental element first and foremost to understand and represent the priorities of the people of Gwent....anyway really looking forward to the seeing the Batlight over Police HQ
The role of the Commissioner must surely be like that of a non executive chairman......starti ng with a 'probe into forced retirement' sounds far too operational. Isn't a fundamental element first and foremost to understand and represent the priorities of the people of Gwent....anyway really looking forward to the seeing the Batlight over Police HQ Robindabank
  • Score: 0

7:31pm Sat 17 Nov 12

Independentvoter says...

The right Candidate for the right job!
The right Candidate for the right job! Independentvoter
  • Score: 0

8:35pm Sun 18 Nov 12

D Taylor says...

Mr Johnston is aged 60 and retired from the police in 2004, so I guess he may have suffered from this 30 year rule that he wants to review. Although it may well be perfectly right to challenge this practice it hardly qualifies as the first matter that should be on his agenda as Commissioner. He is thinking as a policeman. It would be better if his early priorities concerned matters which are of more concern to the public he was elected to serve.
Mr Johnston is aged 60 and retired from the police in 2004, so I guess he may have suffered from this 30 year rule that he wants to review. Although it may well be perfectly right to challenge this practice it hardly qualifies as the first matter that should be on his agenda as Commissioner. He is thinking as a policeman. It would be better if his early priorities concerned matters which are of more concern to the public he was elected to serve. D Taylor
  • Score: 0

11:06pm Sun 18 Nov 12

GwentVoice says...

Well said, it's like putting Willy Wonka in charge of the sweet shop.

First Priority - What a bad move....

Maybe he needs too rethink what he is fighting for, or there isn't much point really.
Well said, it's like putting Willy Wonka in charge of the sweet shop. First Priority - What a bad move.... Maybe he needs too rethink what he is fighting for, or there isn't much point really. GwentVoice
  • Score: 0

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