West Yorkshire’s new police commissioner is to end the controversial public funding of chief officers’ personal legal expenses.
Mark Burns-Williamson has decided Sir Norman Bettison’s successor will not receive taxpayers’ money to pay for a legal insurance fund which has been used to pay huge defence costs for chief constables facing disciplinary action for gross misconduct or criminal investigation.
The legal fund, run by the Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association (CPOSA), is currently paid for by taxpayers at a rate of £2,197 per assistant, deputy and chief constable in each force across the country.
The funding, which has become established in chief officer terms and conditions, has allowed North Yorkshire and Cleveland’s chief constables to effectively bill the public for costs of up to £250,000 when unsuccessfully defending allegations of gross misconduct in the last two years.
Sir Norman will also be able to use the fund to pay any personal legal costs which arise from allegations surrounding his involvement in events following the Hillsborough Disaster.
He resigned as West Yorkshire chief constable last October amid the fallout from the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.
In a statement, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said: “The package for the new chief constable will not include the payment of CPOSA subs. In relation to the other chief officer ranks, this will be a matter for the chief constable in consultation with the Commissioner, who ultimately provides the budget to the chief.”
It is expected the new chief constable will follow the commissioner’s lead and end the payments for other chief officer ranks.
CPOSA declined to comment on the commissioner’s decision which is being mirrored by his counterparts in North Yorkshire and Cleveland.