Northamptonshire PCC Adam Simmonds 'hired friends'

Northamptonshire's police and crime commissioner (PCC), who proposed to employ a team of 17 staff, has been forced to answer criticism that he had found jobs for his "friends".

Adam Simmonds was quizzed by a member of the public, Patricia Masters, at his first panel meeting at County Hall.

She asked why the Conservative PCC had already appointed four assistant commissioners.

Mr Simmonds said he needed to employ some interim staff quickly.

He was speaking at the police and crime panel meeting where his plans were scrutinised by a group of 10 people.

'New role'

Mrs Masters said: "I'm concerned that the PCC did not hold interviews for any of the jobs and instead employed his friends. It is not clear how much these people would be paid."

"I have written to the secretary of state Eric Pickles asking him to look into it. This is our money, from our taxes, and I want to see all of it accounted for."

Liberal Democrat councillor Brendan Glynane, who was part of a police and crime panel, said: "The appointment of Mr Simmonds' election agent into his team has not done his reputation any good because it sends the wrong message to the public.

"These roles are supposed to be non-political."

Mr Simmonds said: "I have only been in the job for three weeks and I had to make decisions quickly. Many people may say that I shouldn't have employed people that I know but this is a completely new role.

"I would rather employ people who would help me to be a success because the buck stops with me."

Setting budgets

Mr Simmonds said he had asked all of his staff to leave their current positions and party allegiances.

The commission will carry out the work that the previous police authority did of overseeing targets and setting budgets.

But the office also has new responsibilities of prevention and taking care of victims of crime.

At the meeting, the police and crime panel elected Conservative councillors Barry Graves and Brian Northall as the chairman and deputy.

The PCC is expected to submit its first budget on 5 February.

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