A self-serving police chief

Share
Related Topics

Supporters of the Chief Constable of Humberside Police, David Westwood, complain that he is being turned into a "scapegoat" for failings that led up to the Soham murders two years ago. They argue that the actual killer, Ian Huntley, is behind bars and that to force the resignation of Mr Westwood, as the Home Secretary hopes to do, would be vindictive and unreasonable. The Humberside Police Authority, which met yesterday to decide Mr Westwood's fate, appears to sympathise with this view, and has called on David Blunkett to "reconsider" his decision to order the police chief's suspension.

Supporters of the Chief Constable of Humberside Police, David Westwood, complain that he is being turned into a "scapegoat" for failings that led up to the Soham murders two years ago. They argue that the actual killer, Ian Huntley, is behind bars and that to force the resignation of Mr Westwood, as the Home Secretary hopes to do, would be vindictive and unreasonable. The Humberside Police Authority, which met yesterday to decide Mr Westwood's fate, appears to sympathise with this view, and has called on David Blunkett to "reconsider" his decision to order the police chief's suspension.

They were wrong to do so. A scapegoat is a guiltless individual punished for the sins of others. Mr Westwood does not fit this description. Sir Michael Bichard's report into the Soham murders uncovered a catalogue of appalling mistakes which led to Ian Huntley, a sexual predator, being employed as a school caretaker. Many of these errors were made by Humberside Police, and Sir Michael concluded that "personal responsibility" for them falls upon Mr Westwood. In other words, these were not just mistakes made on his watch, but mistakes he ought to have spotted and rectified. Mr Westwood has simply been asked to take responsibility for his own failings.

The Chief Constable also feels he should remain in his post, on the grounds that he is best placed to implement the reforms in the handling of data which Sir Michael recommended. But this does not stand up to scrutiny. The failings of Humberside Police's handling of data on sex offenders were documented in close detail by the Bichard report - Mr Westwood is hardly the only person who knows which reforms are necessary.

It is regrettable that Mr Blunkett had to interfere in this matter, and he should not take it as a licence to remove chief constables whenever it may get him a few favourable headlines. It would have been far better if the Humberside Police Authority, or Mr Westwood, had read the Bichard report and concluded that the Chief Constable's position was untenable. But they failed to do so and, in this case, Mr Blunkett was right to intervene.

The scene is now set for a legal battle with the Home Secretary. This will do nothing to restore confidence in Humberside Police, and will delay the reforms which everyone agrees must be implemented immediately. By hanging on, Mr Westwood is serving no one's interests but his own.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...

Humanities and Economics Teacher - January 2015 - Malaysia

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Read Next
This year marks the centenary of the First World War  

Muslims remember too: The poppy hijab will combat hatred on both sides

Sughra Ahmed
Russell Brand makes an appearance at the People's March for the NHS  

If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it

Mark Steel
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain