First elected Police Commissioner claims her Chief Constable's scalp after he quits when told he must reapply for his job
^ Newly-elected Sue Mountstevens met with long-serving Colin Port yesterday
^ Experienced Avon and Somerset chief constable refused to reapply and quit
^ First of what could be a number of casualties as elected officials take control
A mother-of-three elected as a new Police and Crime Commissioner has seen off the current chief constable on her first day in the job.
Sue Mountstevens, 57, who was elected last week as an independent candidate, told long serving Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Colin Port he must reapply for his own job.
He refused, and quit on the spot. He is the first of what is expected to be a number of casualties of the new regime in which elected officials take control of the police for the first time.
Mrs Mountstevens, a former magistrate and married mother of three children, stood on a platform of cutting anti-social behaviour, burglary and violence.
She also promised to keep party politics out of policing and act ‘without interference of national politics’.
The day before she took office, she met Mr Port - who has led the force for eight years - and told him his post would be opened to competition from outsiders and he would have to reapply.
She had the option of extending his contract for another year, but advertising the job would allow her to appoint a chief for her whole three and a half year term, she told him.
Mr Port, who will retire on a pension estimated at £100,000 a year, said: ‘Yesterday I had a meeting with the police and crime commissioner.
‘She told me she intends to start the process to recruit a chief constable to take Avon and Somerset forward. I told her I had no intention of applying for my job.’
‘I can confirm that I will be retiring from the police service on January 26 2013 at the end of my fixed-term appointment. In effect, I will be leaving considerably sooner.’
Mrs Mountstevens, was a long-serving member of the Police Authority and director of a local family business, Mountstevens Bakeries.
She was elected ahead of the Tory candidate last Friday with 125,704 votes to 67,842.
She paid tribute to Mr Port saying he had ‘made great improvements for this area’ and said he would be ‘greatly missed’.
She said: ‘Everyone is aware that the chief constable’s contract expires on January 26. Because of that, I would like to run a competitive process to appoint a chief constable for my whole term of office.
‘It was his choice not to apply but I know that he will continue to do great things and I wish him the very best for the future. He has increased detection rates and reduced crime. He will be greatly missed by staff and partners.’
Police and Crime Commissioners were elected following votes last Thursday in 41 police areas across England and Wales.
The polls were marred by poor turnout, with just one in six registered voters participating.
PCCs will have powers to hire and fire force Chief Constables, and will set the priorities for policing in their area.
Senior officers fiercely resisted the creation of PCC posts, claiming they would politicise the police.
Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers said: ‘Colin Port is a hugely experienced chief constable who has led Avon and Somerset police with distinction over the last eight years, reducing crime and raising public confidence, steering the force through a period of major change and handling a number of high profile criminal cases.
‘His skills and experience will be a big loss to the service.’
THE POWERS OF A PCC EXPLAINED
Police and crime commissioners have the job of ‘bringing communities closer to the police, building confidence in the system and restoring trust’, according to the Home Office website.
They are tasked with creating a police and crime plan, setting the force budget and appointing or dismissing the chief constable.
The former police authorities also had the power to hire and fire but this rarely happened.
Four police forces in the South West now have acting chief constables, but they are not all said to be looking at going for the top job.