MP launches scathing attack on Derbyshire's Police and Crime Commissioner

Pauline Latham, Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire.
Pauline Latham, Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire.

An MP has launched a scathing attack on Derbyshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

During a debate in Parliament, Pauline Latham, the Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire, claimed the county's PCC Hardyal Dhindsa 'frightens the life out of parish councillors' over police cuts - and also accused him of wasting money on hotels, conferences and catering.

Hardyal Dhindsa, Derbyshire's Police and Crime Commissioner.

Hardyal Dhindsa, Derbyshire's Police and Crime Commissioner.

Mr Dhindsa, who is also a Labour councillor on Derby City Council, hit back at Ms Latham's comments - saying she made 'a series of erroneous claims designed to generate maximum impact but without foundation'.

Ms Latham told MPs during the debate: "Interestingly, the PCC spends a lot of his time going around parish councils in Derbyshire, frightening the life out of parish councillors, who do the very best for the people they represent, often with no political affiliation - certainly in my area.

"He is telling them that there are cuts so he cannot do this and he cannot do that.

"He has got rid of most of the police in the rural areas I represent.

"The parish councillors are really worried about the future when they do not need to be.

"Since 2011, Derbyshire police have put significant amounts of money into their reserves.

"Between 2010 and 2016, during the so-called austerity period, the reserves increased by 60 per cent, yet the number of police officers went down by more than 18 per cent. Those numbers are now going up - the police are recruiting as we speak.

"The PCC for Derbyshire clearly does not want to increase efficiency and make savings.

"It is clearly an ideological decision by this left-wing PCC who does not want to change anything because he wants to blame it all on the Conservative Government.

"There are lots of examples of waste: in the last budget, he proposed extra expenditure provisions - much more spending than has ever been spent before - on hotels and conferences.

"I find it concerning that between 2014-15 and 2015-16 catering expenses have doubled.

"That money could have been spent on police officers, who we need for the additional crimes they need to investigate, such as cyber-crime and the pornography that is being generated and people are watching in Derbyshire."

Mr Dhindsa, who became the county's PCC in 2016 and earns £75,000 a year, said: "It is disappointing that Ms Latham has clearly not had the time to read the detailed briefings sent to the Conservative Party in relation to police funding in Derbyshire.

"My door remains open if she wishes to meet the Chief Constable and me so that she can have the facts explained to her. Unfortunately, despite repeated invitations, this is an offer she has yet to take up.

"The result was a series of erroneous claims designed to generate maximum impact but without foundation.

"As PCC I am not responsible for operational policing, so it would be duplicitous for me to inform parish councillors what can and cannot be done. That is a matter for the Chief Constable, as is the deployment of all police resources. I would have expected Ms Latham to be aware of that fact.

"The fact that Government inspectors have consistently rated Derbyshire Constabulary as 'good' and 'outstanding' at tackling serious and organised crime is at odds with her claims.

"The latest report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services stated that the force 'consistently provides a good service to its communities and continues to have an effective approach towards protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims'.

"This is testament to the hard work of the entire constabulary and the excellence of the leadership team. This result has been achieved while producing £37million of savings since 2010 and with the loss of around 400 officers and 200 police staff.

"Another Government survey finds that Derbyshire is the fourth safest place to live, work or visit. I would have expected Ms Latham to have applauded this on behalf of her constituents, but all of these facts appear to have been completely overlooked in the quest for political point scoring.

"Ms Latham's powers of recollection are nothing short of miraculous. In order to give all the details available regarding the budgetary position to our MPs I have held two dedicated briefings. One in October ahead of the funding settlement, where Ms Latham did not make any of the points she raised (in the debate in Parliament), and another in March, where she did not bother to attend.

"In the light of her misguided comments, I urge Ms Latham to find the time to take up my long-standing invitation to meet the Chief Constable and me so that we can discuss the matter face to face."