Proposed new Northamptonshire fire chief under investigation over police role
The candidate being lined up to take the helm at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service is under investigation for her conduct in her former job.
Nikki Watson had been due to be unveiled as the new chief fire officer at the end of 2023, but her appointment was mysteriously delayed.
Now local news website NN Journal has revealed that Ms Watson is being investigated by the IOPC over her conduct while she was deputy chief constable at Avon and Somerset Police.
Although the nature of the allegation has not been revealed, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold had not told members of the appointment panel of her history until NN Journal, run by experienced local reporter Sarah Ward, approached him.
As reported by the Northants Telegraph, the appointment process has been riddled with mis-steps after Mr Mold initially appointed his close friend Nikki Marzec to the role and came under national scrutiny.
We reported that she quickly resigned but was appointed in a new role at the Police Digital Service – an organisation chaired by Mr Mold. The police, fire and crime panel are scheduled to meet on February 20 when the panel will be briefed.
Adam Taylor, Fire Brigades Union executive council member for the East Midlands, said: “Police, fire and crime commissioner Stephen Mold has once again failed to act with the integrity and transparency required of those leading our fire service.
“Media reports shed light on Mold’s preferred candidate for chief fire officer being under investigation by the police watchdog. Firefighters and the public had been given no adequate explanation for the delay in the appointment since December. It appears that even the panel overseeing the process had been kept in the dark.
“While PFCC Mold refuses to step down, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service faces an escalating crisis in senior leadership.”
The OFPCC told NN Journal that they had been made aware of ‘issues’ relating to Nikki Watson’s previous role which had arisen after she’d been publicly named as the preferred candidate.
They added that she had gone through an ‘open and rigorous selection process’.