» Monday, June 28, 2004

Bichard Report/Humberside Police

Asked if the Prime Minister was backing the Home Secretary in his legal bid to remove the Chief Constable of Humberside Police from his post, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said yes. She said that the Home Office was following the protocol, which had been agreed this month by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Association of Police Authorities (APA) and the Chief Police Officers Staff Association (CPOSA), as part of the Police Reform Act 2002. It had taken two years to agree this protocol, which the Home Secretary was following to the letter by going through this particular procedure. Asked again if he had the full backing of the Prime Minister, the PMS repeated that Mr Blunkett was following the protocol that had been agreed. Put to her that Mr Blunkett might be following procedures, but in the end he was the one who had made the decision that the Chief Constable of Humberside should go, the PMS pointed out that the Home Secretary had made a decision about the suspension process, not that the Chief Constable should leave his job. That was an important distinction to make. Asked if the Home Secretary was intending to make a Statement to the Commons about this issue, the PMS said not as far as she was aware. She reminded journalists that Mr Blunkett had made a Statement to the House following the publication of the Bichard Report and had made a further statement on Friday following the announcement by Humberside Police Authority.

Put to her that the Bichard Report had also been critical of the Home Office, the PMS said the Bichard Report had made it clear that there was a difference between failures in the past and the changes to be made in the future. However, if journalists read the report, they would see that it had also been clear about the position of the Chief Constable and Humberside Police. Put to her that Sir Michael Bichard had not called for the Chief Constable’s suspension or sacking, the PMS acknowledged that that was the case. However, it was important for people to recognise that the Home Secretary was following the protocol which had been agreed by ACPO, APA and CPOSA.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. I heard it was the case that, ‘as the person in charge, he was ultimately responsible for everything that happened ie. the buck stops here’ If the Government feels that is the case, how come the same doesnt apply to MP’s and Tony Blair himself ! Surely this isnt just designed to deflect any bad press towards the government and provide a handy scapegoat……..

    Comment by Tony — 29 Jun 2004 on 12:05 am | Link
  2. The reason for Mr Westwood having to stand down is the explicit personal criticism of him in the Bichard Report (read it and you’ll see). If any politician had the same level of criticism then they would have to stand down.

    Comment by David Boothroyd — 29 Jun 2004 on 4:53 pm | Link
  3. The Report of the Bichard Inquiry can be found at,
    <a href="http://www.bichardinquiry.org.uk/10663/html/titlepage_copyright.htm">http://www.bichardinquiry.org.uk/10663/html/titlepage_copyright.htm</a&gt;

    His summary conclusion on Humberside Police:
    "48. I must therefore conclude that there were very serious failings in the senior management at Humberside Police."

    The relevant criticism of the Home Office was much woollier:
    "52. The Home Office should take the lead more effectively than it has during the past decade, to deliver these priorities. Ultimately, they should be priorities for the government as a whole and not just one department."

    I think this is definitely a case of "thank goodness only one of them can win". Westwood’s behaviour — trying to hide behind the Data Protection Act to justify his force’s errors — was pretty odious; but the notion of the Home Office trying to control management of local police forces is bad news too.

    Comment by Chris Lightfoot — 29 Jun 2004 on 7:24 pm | Link
  4. "If any politician had the same level of criticism then they would have to stand down". I seem to recall Beverley Hughes & David Blunkett getting it in the neck good-style over flaws in the visa system, but it was only when Hughes was found out to have lied that she stepped down. I dispute that politicians will step down if directly criticised; I believe in the vast majority of cases politicians will refuse to move until they are forced.

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 30 Jun 2004 on 12:15 pm | Link

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