CONTROVERSY surrounds a decision by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson to hire a former councillor as his deputy.
Labour PCC Mr Jamieson has brought in his former assistant Waheed Saleem – against the advice of his own police and crime panel.
The cross-party panel of regional councillors wrote to Mr Jamieson on May 22 to ask him not to hire Mr Saleem, citing ‘poor lack of judgment and necessary standards of behaviour’ shown by him.
Chair of the panel and Solihull Conservative councillor Ken Hawkins wrote: “The panel agreed by a majority to recommend that Waheed Saleem should not be appointed as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner… the Panel felt that more recent comments on social media demonstrated a poor lack of judgment and the necessary standards of behaviour, integrity and level-headedness for this high-profile position.”
Mr Jamieson is said to have called the panel’s recommendation ‘ill founded and cheap’.
Mr Saleem, 40, is a controversial candidate for the £56,000 role after he was barred from serving on a local authority for a year in 2004.
An investigation at Walsall council found he had revealed bids for one of its properties to a Muslim girls’ school tendering for it.
A controversial role as governor of one of the schools linked to the Birmingham ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal has also led politicians to question his suitability.
Conservative Solihull MP Julian Knight said: “David Jamieson has demonstrated doubly poor judgement in this matter. Firstly, he has promoted a single candidate who has at best been mired in past controversy in the West Midlands and at worst is completely unsuitable for this role.
“Secondly, he has compounded this by ignoring and then attempting to discredit the perfectly legitimate concerns of the cross-party panel who have fulfilled their role in scrutinising this decision.
“This whole saga does nothing to the reputation or credibility of his office, he has patently failed to deliver a transparent process and simply imposed a Deputy Commissioner who now lacks credibility from day one.”
On his nomination by Mr Jamieson to the role in April, Mr Saleem said: “I am delighted to be given this opportunity. Some of the areas I will be focussing on are recruitment, to ensure that we are utilising the talents of all our communities in West Midlands Police, tackling the growing rate of fraud and breaking the cycle of crime.
“Fraud has been underreported for years, especially online fraud, and the response by national agencies to the crime has been weak. I will be standing up for victims and pressing for a better national service to catch the fraudsters and reduce the number of victims.
“I am also helping to lead the force’s response to Covid-19, by driving through policies to ensure the wellbeing of our workforce and working to tackle the emerging changes in crime. West Midlands Police is putting the protection of crimes against key workers at the heart of its policing mission.
“I am also leading the West Midlands response to early prisoner releases announced by the government. I am working to co-ordinate the services in place to ensure offenders don’t become repeat offenders and cause there to be many more victims of crime.”
The role was formerly held by Coventry Labour politician Dr Lynette Kelly, who ran to succeed Mr Jamieson at PCC elections next year, but she lost out on the Labour nomination to legal aid solicitor Simon Foster.