South East Wales

Candidates 'put off' Gwent Police chief job to replace Carmel Napier

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Media captionWayne David MP says Ian Johnston's treatment in forcing out the former chief constable Carmel Napier has made people wary of applying for the job

Candidates have been put off applying for the vacant police chief constable job at Gwent Police because of the actions of its police and crime commissioner, a senior MP has claimed.

Carmel Napier quit in June after an order from commissioner (PCC) Ian Johnston to "retire or be removed".

Her deputy Jeff Farrar was the only applicant to replace her and is the "proposed candidate" for the top job.

Caerphilly MP Wayne David said having just one applicant was "disappointing".

The Gwent Police and Crime Panel will have to confirm the appointment which comes with a £133,068 a year salary.

But Mr David, the parliamentary private secretary to Labour leader Ed Miliband, said he was not surprised more people did not go for the job.

He told Radio Wales: "I was very disappointed because I was very much hoping there would be a wide field and the choice would be made from that wide field.

"Although an excellent chief constable has been selected in Jeff Farrar, who I know and hold in very high regard, it's nevertheless disappointing there wasn't a bigger field.

"I think you have to look at what's happened over the last few months in Gwent."

Image caption Jeff Farrar was the deputy of former chief constable Carmel Napier

Mr David said the way in which Mrs Napier was dealt with indicated that the commissioner had expected her to "basically kowtow" to him.

He added: "I would imagine that many aspiring senior police officers in the county have seen what happened in Gwent and thought 'right, we're not going to be in that situation'.

"I think what's happened in Gwent - and inevitably the buck stops with him as the PCC - is one of the main reasons, probably the primary reason why there were not more applications."

Mr Farrar, who has served as a police officer for 29 years, joined Gwent Police from neighbouring South Wales Police in 2009 having been appointed as assistant chief constable.

He was then promoted to deputy chief constable in April 2011. He has been temporary chief constable since Mrs Napier's departure.

Following an interview on Monday, Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mr Johnston named Mr Farrar as his "proposed candidate", saying he was the "kind of leader Gwent Police needs at this time".

Forced departure

"During the time I have worked with Jeff Farrar he has proved himself to be a highly competent and effective officer," he added.

The decision will now be referred to the Gwent Police and Crime Panel - which oversees and scrutinises the PCC - on 8 November for it to confirm the appointment.

Mr Johnston declined to comment on Mr David's remarks until after the confirmation hearing.

A police watchdog said the forced departure Mrs Napier brought instability to Gwent Police at a critical time.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said in July that the force faced a difficult challenge as the force has to save £23.5m by 2015.

In July, Mrs Napier told MPs on the Home Affairs Committee that she was forced to resign following "menacing and bullying" treatment by the force's police commissioner.

Mr Johnston denied the allegations and that the resignation had caused instability.

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