Tees

Cleveland Police ethics head suspension sparks political row

Cleveland Police HQ Image copyright Google
Image caption Cleveland Police has been "rocked" by "major scandals" according to Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen

A political row has broken out after a scandal-hit police force's director of standards and ethics was suspended.

Cristiana Emsley has been suspended from her role at Cleveland Police pending a misconduct investigation.

Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen accused Labour Cleveland Police and Crime commissioner Barry Coppinger of a "failure of leadership".

Mr Coppinger and Middlesbrough's Labour MP Andy McDonald accused Mr Houchen of "playing political games".

The force has not named the suspended employee but correspondence between Mr Houchen and Mr Coppinger, who have previously argued over staffing in their respective offices, identified her as Ms Emsley, a civilian who was recruited after the force disbanded its professional standards department.

Mr Houchen's letter to Mr Coppinger said: "No organisation is perfect but the frequency with which major scandals have rocked Cleveland Police under your tenure points towards a failure of leadership."

Image caption Barry Coppinger and Ben Houchen have fallen out before

The mayor praised Chief Constable Richard Lewis for the progress he has made in the role since he was appointed in April 2019 - the force's sixth chief since 2012.

But he asked the commissioner for more details about what had happened in the lead-up to Ms Emsley's suspension.

Mr Coppinger accused the mayor of hypocrisy in claiming to support the force while, he said, "causing what I'm certain will be even greater stress and anxiety for a now suspended member of staff, who is entitled to due process".

Mr McDonald said he "wouldn't have expected anything less" from Mr Houchen and Tory MPs asking for more details on the suspension, adding: "They are playing political games demanding information that they know full well cannot be released whilst formal processes are underway."

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said suspension is a "neutral act", adding: "As a misconduct investigation is ongoing, and in line with national guidance, it would not be appropriate to say more at this time."

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