Derbyshire police chief hits back at county council leader’s claims about his ‘bloated office’

Derbyshire PCC Hardyal Dhindsa
Derbyshire PCC Hardyal Dhindsa

Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has hit back at claims made by the leader of the county council about his “bloated office”.

In a Derbyshire County Council meeting last week, members spoke in a heated debate about public sector funding cuts.

During this debate, Tory leader of the authority Coun Barry Lewis made a jab at Derbyshire’s Labour Police and Crime Commissioner, Hardyal Dhindsa.

Coun Lewis had said: “I certainly won’t take history lessons from a party whose own PCC increased, unnecessarily I might add, spending on his own bloated office, while cutting frontline services and complaining about it.”

Now Mr Dhindsa - elected in 2016 following a three-year stint as deputy to then incumbent Alan Charles - has responded calling Coun Lewis’ comments ‘misguided’.

He said: “Coun Lewis clearly has little or no understanding of the increased responsibilities placed on Police and Crime Commissioners, by the government, since the role was introduced.

“With that in mind, I have invited him to a meeting at police HQ and I wait to hear from him.”

In March 2017, the PCC put out a tender to hire a PR agency with public sector experience and skills in crisis management - at a cost of £200,000 for a three-and-a-half year contract.

Then in May this year, the Mr Dhindsa came under fire due to plans to appoint two new staff at a cost of £90,700 a year.

The new roles for ‘policy and partnership officer’ and an ‘engagement coordinator’ increased his total office staff – minus himself and his deputy – to 19 people.

He said the roles were needed because the workload involved in his job had increased since commissioners were introduced in 2012.

“Of particular relevance to the workload are the changes relating to the handling of complaints against police officers and the commissioning of victims services,” Mr Dhindsa said at the time.

Earlier this year Mr Dhindsa increased council tax in the county by £12-a-year to fund 25 more police officers that would fight child abuse, sexual violence, modern slavery and cyber-crime.

Last month he said that planned large increase in pension costs could have a catastrophic effect on policing.

He said it could cause more than 140 officers to be laid off.

The plan from central government is to increase the amount that police forces pay into officers’ pensions.

By 2020/21, Derbyshire Constabulary will have to come up with an extra £6 million due to this new plan, it is predicted.

Mr Dhindsa said: “This increase in costs has the potential to severely damage our ability to invest in the communities we serve.

“It also puts at risk the reputation of Derbyshire Constabulary as a good force and Derbyshire as a safe county to live in.”

Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service