‘Home members tried to interfere on three occasions’
HOME AFFAIRS committee members were criticised by head of law enforcement Patrick Rice yesterday for emailing him in what he perceived as an attempt to interfere in operational matters.
Addressing a meeting of the Scrutiny Management Committee, called in the wake of a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Mr Rice cited three key examples.
He said he had receive emails suggesting that a staff member be given a pay rise, that the police should mount an awareness campaign about flashing bicycle lights, and concerns about a bus being driven on the wrong side of the road after a video had been posted on social media.
Sending him these messages was ‘unnecessary’, he said.
While none had called directly for immediate action, he said that in his opinion these were operational matters that would have been better addressed to another member of staff.
However, Home president Mary Lowe said later that Mr Rice’s comment was the first she had heard of this.
The panel also questioned Matt Parr of HMIC, who said that he did not like the term ‘political interference’ since it suggested ‘interference verging on corruption’ such as calling on officers to investigate one matter rather than another.
And he said that the criticism in the report of the committee was not that it had neglected strategic responsibilities, it was that it had focused too much on small details.
‘But there is much to be admired in a committee that is so wholly connected to its community,’ he said.
During the hearing Home’s president and at least one of its members agreed that a follow-up report should be carried out, once the new head of law enforcement, Superintendent Ruari Hardy, had time to settle down after taking up the role next month.
It was also suggested that a statutory requirement for a regular review of law enforcement should be put in place and both of these issues are set to be discussed by the committee.
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