West Yorkshire Police’s chief constable Mark Gilmore is set to have his suspension lifted - but will not yet return to his role at the force.
Mr Gilmore, who was suspended on full pay nearly a year ago, was told in April that he would not face prosecution in his native Northern Ireland as part of a probe into the alleged corrupt award of police vehicle contracts.
West Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson revealed today that Mr Gilmore’s suspension would be lifted on Monday.
But instead of returning to his old job he will work on a “transition project” for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the successor body to the Association of Chief Police Officers, while a separate conduct investigation is carried out by Lancashire Police.
Mr Burns-Williamson said in a statement today: “Today I can confirm that as of Monday 18 May I will be lifting the suspension of West Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable, Mark Gilmore.
“Mark Gilmore was suspended in the public interest while a criminal investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) was carried out.
“The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) of Northern Ireland recently concluded that there was no criminal case for Chief Constable Gilmore to answer. In light of this decision I have determined that the public interest requirement for suspension no longer applies.
“There remains however a legal requirement for me to consider conduct matters in relation to the police standards of professional behaviour and an independent investigation will be carried out by Lancashire Police.
“While this conduct investigation takes place Mark Gilmore has agreed to work on a transition project for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and to delegate day to day operational control of West Yorkshire Police to his deputy Dee Collins who has, in his absence, acted as the Temporary Chief Constable.
“I will continue to work alongside Dee Collins and colleagues in West Yorkshire Police in the interests of people across the county, focused on making sure our communities are safer and feel safer.”
Sara Thornton, chair of the National Police Chiefs Council, said: “West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson has asked me if the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Mark Gilmore can work for the NPCC while an internal investigation takes place.
“Police Conduct Regulations state other work should be considered as an alternative to suspension. We have carefully considered this suggestion and have agreed to it.
“CC Gilmore has agreed to this proposal. He will start work remotely on Monday May 18 on a transition project.
“This decision facilitates the effective investigation of the conduct matter and does not affect the process in any way. It is a practical decision taken in the public interest to enable CC Gilmore to contribute to national policing while he is not working in West Yorkshire.”
North Wales Chief Constable Mark Polin, who is chair of the Chief Police Officers Staff Association, the body representing the interests of senior officers, said: “I welcome the decision taken today by Mark Burns Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), to lift the suspension of Mark Gilmore the West Yorkshire Chief Constable.
“Mark Gilmore remains wholly committed to working alongside the PCC and to serve the communities of the county. We trust that this conduct investigation will be concluded in a thorough but timely manner.”
The decision not to prosecute Mr Gilmore was announced on April 15 by prosecutors, who said there was “insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.” For the last month Mr Burns-Williamson has been reviewing Mr Gilmore’s suspension.
Mr Gilmore, who grew up in Belfast and spent most of his career there, was one of several officers who faced claims including bribery, misconduct in public office and procuring misconduct in public office.
He was suspended on full pay in June – a little over a year after his appointment – when details of the investigation came to light.
At the time Mr Burns-Williamson said the suspension was “a necessity in the public interest until the full facts have been established”. Dee Collins took over as Temporary Chief Constable.
At the time of his suspension, Mr Gilmore, who attended police interview in Belfast voluntarily, insisted he had always acted with honesty and integrity.
It emerged yesterday that West Yorkshire Police is advertising for a replacement for Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Dodd, who is retiring.
According to an online job advertisement, the salary for the role is between £95,640 and £107,976. It says candidates applying should have “a leadership style and personal ownership that engages you and the public with integrity, fairness and respect”.