Cornwall

Clash on £500K Devon and Cornwall police commissioner move

Tony Hogg and Shaun Sawyer
Image caption Tony Hogg and Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer disagree on the move of the crime commissioner's office

A chief constable and police crime commissioner are locked in a row over a £500,000 office move.

Devon and Cornwall Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer told PCC Tony Hogg in a 2014 letter that moving his office to the force headquarters "sends the wrong signal" financially.

He added it could threaten Mr Hogg's impartiality in overseeing the police.

The commissioner said he would remain impartial and the cost would be repaid in four to five years.

Read more on this story as it develops throughout the day on our Local Live pages.

The disagreement emerged in an exchange of letters in 2014 seen by the BBC after a freedom of information request to Devon and Cornwall Police.

The force confirmed that the chief constable remains concerned about the move, the cost of which has been estimated by the crime commissioner.

Image caption Mr Sawyer wrote in his letter: "I fear the public would see this as not the best use of your time or their money"

Mr Hogg currently rents office space at Pynes Hill Business Park in Exeter, which costs about £100,000 a year.

The lease runs out this year, and the commissioner plans to move less than a mile to the Middlemoor complex, where the chief constable and senior officers are based.

ANALYSIS: SIMON HALL, BBC SW HOME AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT

Almost four years on from their creation, the initial term of office of the first police and crime commissioners is almost complete.

In that time, the public, and senior police officers, have become more used to the powerful officials.

But, as this row demonstrates, commissioners are no less controversial.

And that should make for interesting times as we approach the elections for the new commissioners, in May.

Image caption The move would pay for itself within five years, the police and crime commissioner says

A letter seen by the BBC from Mr Sawyer to Mr Hogg in May 2014 said: "I am not convinced this adds up strategically, operationally or financially.

"I cannot think of a worse time for the OPCC (Office of Police and Crime Commissioner) or the Force to divert time or energy from the job in hand."

He added: "I fear the public would see this as not the best use of your time or their money."

The commissioner replied that the plan was part of a review of the number of buildings Devon and Cornwall Police own or lease, and designed to bring about "short, medium and long term savings".

Andrew White, chief executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, said in a statement: "The building doesn't decide if the commissioner is impartial or not.

"I think it will mean an improvement for the public because we'll be spending less money on our estate... so more money will go to policing and that's the most important thing about this change."

Mr Hogg is expected to decide on whether to go ahead with the move later this year.

Mr Sawyer declined to comment.

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