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Ex-Cumbria police chief eyes crime commissioner’s job

Stuart Hyde – the retired police chief at the centre of a 12-month suspension controversy – is thinking about standing to be Cumbria’s crime commissioner.

Stuart Hyde photo
Stuart Hyde

Mr Hyde, who was cleared of misconduct by an investigation, is weighing up a return to the frontline of senior crimefighting by replacing Richard Rhodes, the man who kept telling him not to return to work.

“It’s something I’m considering,” said the 54-year-old. “I’ve been asked by a couple of people if I would stand. It would be in Cumbria.”

Mr Hyde was speaking a month on from his retirement following a period in his career that saw him soar to the height of being appointed Cumbria’s top police officer – but was also mired in controversy following his suspension.

He was taken off duty as temporary chief constable in September 2012 after allegations were levelled at him, and remained suspended for a year.

But an investigation by another force did not find evidence of misconduct.

He returned to work in his previous role of deputy chief constable in September, before retiring at the end of the year.

The cost to the taxpayer of bills and wages in the year-long saga was last year placed at almost £500,000.

Mr Hyde served with a number of police forces before joining Cumbria Constabulary in 2009 as deputy chief constable, taking the role of temporary chief constable in January 2012.

He said: “If you look at a lot of the good things I’ve done in policing I would have liked to have been judged against that.

“Suddenly out of nowhere this thing arises. I was suspended for just under 12 months. There was an investigation costing hundreds of thousands of pounds and was it all worth it? I’ve got to say, ‘No, I don’t think it was’.”

Mr Hyde was taken off duty by the force’s former governing body, Cumbria Police Authority.

Mr Rhodes, who was elected to the new role of crime commissioner which replaced the authority, then took monthly decisions to renew the suspension while an investigation was underway.

Mr Hyde said the decision to suspend him left him “totally traumatised”.

“My world had come to an end. It was devastating.”

He said he never thought his suspension would last a year. “I thought this would be finished within a couple of weeks,” he said.

“My initial reaction (after being suspended) was to find things to do around the house.

“I got myself involved in charity, saw friends I hadn’t seen for a while. I would have liked to have continued to produce something for policing.

“The three-and-a-half years I had been in Cumbria, crime had gone down and just about every target had been met. Budgets were on target.

“What kept me going was really understanding that there were a lot of people who have it a lot worse than me.”

He said the impact on his family was “horrendous”. “My wife has been massively supportive. My children have been amazing. I learned who my real friends are,” he added.

Before the suspension Mr Hyde had been planning on a long-term stay as chief constable. “I would have wanted to stay as chief constable. I would have looked to contribute a lot more to Cumbria.”

On Mr Rhodes’ decision to keep him suspended, Mr Hyde said there were “missed opportunities”.

He added: “At no stage was there an opportunity to sit down and say, ‘What is this all about?’

“That money was coming out of the public purse. I was given money to sit around and do nothing.”

When he got back to work he was put in charge of a raft of technology-related developments.

“It wasn’t a proper deputy chief’s role, but I think on the basis I was going to retire at some stage it was thought probably best to put me somewhere where I could use my expertise,” he said.

“I must admit the vast majority of people were really happy to see me and very pleased that I had gone back to work.”

Mr Hyde said he was still trying to get a full copy of the allegations.

“I would like to know what was in it. I’m fighting to try to get the information I believe was owed to me,” he said.

Mr Rhodes said he had previously published lengthy documents “summarising the situation on the suspension”. He added: “The suspension was undertaken in accordance with the police regulations.”

Have your say

I think Stuart would do a great job.

Posted by Clive on 24 February 2014 at 14:21

Go for it Stuart,an ideal candidate,with all the necessary background and experience. Not a political stooge carrying out orders from london.

Posted by Jenny on 18 February 2014 at 17:27

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