Stitch

Veale meat again… February 1

The embattled Cleveland police force has defended its decision to appoint Mike Veale, the similarly embattled chief constable of Wiltshire Police, as its own chief constable, despite an ongoing Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into allegations that he has deliberately damaged a mobile phone.

Jan 31, 2018
Scottish Police Federation chair David Hamilton

The embattled Cleveland police force has defended its decision to appoint Mike Veale, the similarly embattled chief constable of Wiltshire Police, as its own chief constable, despite an ongoing Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into allegations that he has deliberately damaged a mobile phone. The investigation is in its early stages, and we can but hope that he has not flung it at subordinates, leaving red marks on their necks. This is not Mike’s first brush with controversy. He has previously been criticised over the lengthy (two years) and expensive (£1.5 million) child abuse inquiry into unsubstantiated allegations against the deceased and thus unlikely to offend (or reoffend) Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath. His alleged previous form does, however, pale into insignificance when compared to the scandals with which Cleveland Police has had to cope, including, at the latest count, corruption, child abuse, phone hacking, gross misconduct and racism. These scandals have lasted longer (many years) and cost more (many millions). It looks as if Mr Veale’s previous service will have been an ideal preparation for his new challenge. Cleveland’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) Barry Coppinger thinks so. He has announced that “Mike Veale was appointed as the next chief constable of Cleveland Police following a rigorous recruitment process in which the shortlisted candidates were considered by an interview panel of stakeholders and then the police and crime panel. Mr Veale has a vast range of police experience, including as a detective and senior investigator, chief officer and, for the past two years, chief constable of Wiltshire”. This may well be the case, but his experience will not help him run the force if he is suspended, or dismissed, or arrested, or all three. Last Thursday, the IOPC announced it was giving extra resources to its investigation into allegations of discrimination within Cleveland Police. They could, of course, team up with another force close to the Arctic Circle. Cumbria’s PCC, Peter McCall, has announced that the aptly named Deputy Chief Constable Michelle Skeer (think snow sports) is his preferred choice, and she will take charge of the force if her appointment is approved by the police and crime panel. Ms Skeer has served in Cumbria for 28 years, and appears to have refrained, in the main, from attacking subordinates and damaging equipment, but she has been severely criticised for her role in the investigation of the death of Poppi Worthington. She was nevertheless recommended following a panel meeting advised by former chief constable of Cumbria Constabulary and current Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service Sir Craig Mackey, who seems to have abseiled out of the region without being charged with anything. Cumbria has also had its share of tensions at the higher levels, and Ms Skeer looks set to replace Jerry Graham, who retired early for “personal and health reasons”. She has, on a brighter note, led the force’s change management programme (never an easy task) and worked as National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for managing violent and sexual offenders, so handling senior police officers and politicians should not be too much of a challenge for her. Time will, as ever, tell… Yours, Stitch stitchley@policeprofessional.com @SOStitchley

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