The Home Secretary has instructed the Humberside Police Authority to suspend the chief constable of Humberside, David Westwood. I have no views on the actual issue of David Westwood’s competence and whether or not he actually deserves to be suspended and ultimately sacked, but what is alarming is how Downing Street is centralising more and more decisions on local matters that have a huge baring on civil liberties.
Lawyers for Mr Blunkett are expected to ask the High Court, possibly on Tuesday, for an injunction forcing the authority to carry out his instruction to suspend the officer. This will be the first test of powers under the Police Reform Act 2002 and the Home Secretary will argue that suspension is necessary “for the maintenance of public confidence” in the force.
Colin Inglis, the chairman of the authority and the Labour leader of Kingston-upon-Hull told BBC1’s Look North: “The police authority is not a rubber stamp and if the Home Secretary expected a rubber stamp then that, I’m afraid, is not what he has got.
“The Home Secretary is not David Westwood’s line manager. David Westwood works for the police authority.
The issue is not “is David Westwood a good copper” but “do you want David Blunkett making those decisions?”. No prizes for guessing where I stand on that.