Gwent's chief constable, Carmel Napier, retires after series of spats with her elected police commissioner, Ian Johnston


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Gwent's chief constable retired after she was given an ultimatum to leave or face the push after a series of spats with her elected police commissioner.

The departure of Carmel Napier marks the latest high-profile dispute between senior police officers and the elected officials brought in to scrutinise their work.

Mrs Napier quit last week without explanation but leaked documents revealed that the police and crime commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, told her that he wanted her to retire or would take steps to have her removed.

Mr Johnston told the BBC: “The relationship was never going to work because one of the parties never accepted the concept of police and crime commissioners.”

The former policeman detailed a series of complaints including about her “dismissive” managerial style and her hostility to the idea of elected police commissioners, according to papers leaked to the South Wales Argus.

Mr Johnston's move led to immediate criticism with Newport East MP Paul Flynn tweeting that “Gwent's best chief constable for decades ousted by uninspiring PCC.”

Mrs Napier called for a government re-think on the powers of the PCCs. In a statement, she said: “Much has been made of the need for PCCs not to stray into areas of operational policing and how important it is for chief constables to retain that independence.

”The government must consider whether the legislation governing the PCCs power to call for chiefs to retire or resign adequately protects the independence of operational policing in England and Wales.“

The elections for PCCs were introduced as one of the government's flagship law and order policies but was marred from the start by low turnouts in elections in November last year, and a series of ructions at the top of police forces.

Colin Port, the former head of the Avon and Somerset force, took unsuccessful legal action after a showdown with the police and crime commissioner that led to his departure. And in Lincolnshire, the PCC Alan Hardwick was forced to reverse the suspension of his chief constable Neil Rhodes after a court ruling labelled his original decision irrational and perverse.