Commissioner's 'swinging the lead' comment prompts Northamptonshire Police backlash

The county's police and crime commissioner has been forced to make an apology to the force's staff after suggesting some had not been pulling their weight.

Thursday, 12th April 2018, 10:06 am
Updated Thursday, 12th April 2018, 10:51 am
The police federation is demanding an explanation from Mr Mold after he accused a minority of police officers of not pulling their weight.

Stephen Mold made the damning comments to the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Panel on Tuesday, after he was hauled over the coals for the county police force’s recent ‘requires improvement’ rating from the Home Office.

Last month, the force was deemed to be not meeting the standard in most judged areas and not carrying out basic policing duties.

Mr Mold, who has been in office for almost two years, said Northamptonshire Police still has a "cultural problem" and said that a handful of people have been "allowed to get away with swinging the lead or not working as hard as they should be.”

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Mr Mold told the panel of an incident in which an officer let a handbag snatcher off with the crime because he did not have the time to deal with it.

He added that he would only be giving his chief constable Simon Edens a short time to turn the performance of the county force around.

But the comments immediately sparked a backlash.

Yesterday, Northamptonshire’s Police Federation, a body that looks after the interests of serving officers, tweeted that it would be obtaining an “explanation” from Mr Mold.

Mr Mold was elected in 2016, but the force has now received two poor watchdog ratings in a row.

Chief Constable Simon Edens also took to social media, before this morning’s announcement about his retirement.

It read: “Despite unprecedented pressure on policing (fewer resources, greater demands), our workforce here remain focused and committed,” though he declined the offer to comment further.

His tweet was shared 50 times and 'liked' close to 200 times.

Yesterday (Wednesday), Mr Mold sent staff an internal memo apologising for the comments, stressing that he was only referring to a minority of staff. It is understood he will be meeting the police federation this week.

Mr Mold was elected in 2016, but the force has now received two poor watchdog ratings in a row.

In a statement, he said: “I am sad that my remarks have caused concern amongst the hard-working, committed officers and staff of Northamptonshire Police – that was truly never my intention.

"My comment was that – as in every organisation – there is a very small minority of people who are not working as well as they could. This is something that both the Chief Constable and I agree should be dealt with as we work to improve the performance of the Force.

“But I have always been clear, both in public and in private, how proud I am of the officers and staff of Northamptonshire Police, who work with dedication to provide the best possible policing service to the people of this county, in very challenging circumstances and who do their utmost to keep this county safe.

“I would not wish the remarks I made this week, about a very limited number of people, to overshadow the awe I feel every day when I see the selfless hard work of the vast majority of officers and staff, day in, day out. My gratitude to those people is total and I know that my appreciation is shared by people across Northamptonshire.”