Only one person, Humberside Police’s existing Assistant Chief Constable, was interviewed for the position of Justine Curran’s successor as the force’s top officer, it has emerged.
Two people had been expected to be interviewed for the £159,000-a-year job, with the process involving a mock interview by Look North presenter Peter Levy.
But shortly before the interviews were due to take place, one of the two candidates, a former senior officer who at the time was leading a national agency, withdrew from contention.
This left just Lee Freeman, who joined the force as Assistant Chief Constable in May 2015 and was later confirmed as Chief Constable.
Confirming his appointment, the Humberside Police and Crime Panel said he “had the required leadership and man-management qualities to engage, motivate and encourage all Humberside Police officers and staff to support his ideas and vision for the force in the future”.
The post was advertised twice, with only Mr Freeman and another external candidate, a female officer with substantive experience, applying the first time. The female officer was not given an interview because she had not “demonstrated sufficient evidence to enable them to be selected for interview against the agreed rating scale”. The post was then re-advertised.
The lack of candidates for the role of Humberside Chief Constable is a repeat of the situation in West Yorkshire, where only one internal candidate, Dee Collins, applied for the top position at Yorkshire’s largest force. And in 2016, a committee of MPs said it was “deeply concerning” that so few applicants were going for Chief Constable positions, with many being given to the incumbent deputy chief.
Humberside Police is making significant changes to its senior command team, with Deputy Chief Constable Garry Forsyth leaving to join Bedfordshire Police. Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Andy McDyer is acting up as Deputy while a replacement is found, with two Chief Superintendents currently serving as temporary Assistant Chiefs.
Reflecting on her departure from the force, Ms Curran said: “I have been passionate about policing all of my career, and if I thought it would have improved the force, it would still be painful for me personally but I would have been happier to say ‘fair enough’.
“My slight question would be, here we are in September, the force has no deputy or substantive ACC in that role, what has changed?
“I don’t want the new chief not to do well or the force not to do well, because I put a lot of my heart and soul into it doing well.”
Crime commissioner Keith Hunter said: “The process for appointing the new Chief Constable has been reported upon publicly and documents are freely available giving the detail. It was a scrupulously fair process following precisely College of Policing guidance and reported upon by an independent member of the panel.
“Deputy Chief Constable Forsyth is still employed by Humberside Police until September 4. Therefore there has not even been a vacancy to fill yet.”