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Home Secretary backs Cumbrian crime commissioner Rhodes

Home Secretary Theresa May threw her support behind Cumbria’s embattled police and crime commissioner during a visit to Carlisle.

Theresa May photo
Walkabout: Home Secretary Theresa May and MP John Stevenson in Carlisle

Crime commissioner Richard Rhodes has come under fire following a series of controversies.

They include revelations that he spent £700 of public funds on two chauffeur-driven trips –costs he has since paid back – and concerns over his conduct in relation to a police investigation in which force employees and others were arrested after details of the expenses were released.

Mrs May said: “I think Richard Rhodes is a very good police and crime commissioner. I think he is doing what police and crime commissioners should be doing and that is getting out and about and hearing what people want from their local police. He is their voice.”

Mr Rhodes has also refused to allow a share of £100,000 earmarked to tackle antisocial behaviour across Carlisle to be spent on an upgrade of the city’s CCTV network.

Instead the Conservative ordered the county’s stand-in chief constable, Bernard Lawson, to review the effectiveness of CCTV cameras across Cumbria.

That has led to Mr Lawson suggesting that, with money from Mr Rhodes, Cumbria police could have a single monitoring site based at the force’s Carleton Hall HQ, near Penrith.

The Home Secretary Mrs May joined Carlisle Conservative MP John Stevenson on a walkabout of the city centre on Saturday morning to highlight their concerns about proposed cuts that Carlisle City Council want to make.

In a move that could save the council £180,000, 48 of Carlisle’s existing 63 cameras could be switched off for good next year.

The Labour-run council says a cut in its grant from Government has left it with no choice. Only 15 cameras would still be recording, not monitored.

Mr Stevenson said: “The CCTV switch-off proposed is a real concern for me and many of my constituents. CCTV acts as both a deterrent and as evidence should a crime be committed. I am very concerned that to lose this resource locally could have very serious consequences.”

Dressed in a smart blue jacket, crisp white shirt and jeans, Mrs May said: “CCTV is a powerful tool that the police rely on and which gives reassurance to law-abiding people. Crime in Cumbria is down by 12 per cent since the election, and I want to see it fall even further.”

Elsie Martlew, the city council’s portfolio holder responsible for CCTV, has defended the move to cut CCTV coverage, suggesting that groups which benefit from the service should be expected to contribute towards costs.

Meanwhile the Home Secretary accepted the long-running suspension of Cumbria’s temporary chief constable Stuart Hyde is “difficult” for the force.

Mrs May said: “I recognise there is uncertainty here which I’m sure will be resolved in due course.”

On Friday night Mrs May was the guest speaker at a dinner held at Eden Golf Club for 350 Conservative stalwarts.

Opinion: Page 12

Have your say

Seeing that he is our voice... How many people has he actually been to speak to? Or is his community engagement at these Conservative party dinners he seems so fond of? Waste of good money.

Posted by Lee MW on 25 June 2013 at 21:44

He needs all the support he can get from whatever source as he hasn't any from the great majority of Cumbrians by all accounts. When is he going to Man Up and realise the complaints against CC Hyde don't add up and bring the man back to work. 11 Months and nothing concrete. Either there is nothing to answer or the South Wales police are inept. I know where my money is going.

Posted by Sid on 25 June 2013 at 16:53

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