Agenda and minutes

Cumbria Police and Crime Panel
Friday, 23rd February, 2018 10.30 am

Venue: Control Room, Cumbria Fire and Rescue HQ, Carleton Avenue, Penrith, CA10 2FA.

Contact: Lynn Harker  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.



An apology for absence was received from Mr GJ Sunderland.



Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.



There were no disclosures of interest on this occasion.



Exclusion of Press and Public

To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any item on the Agenda.



RESOLVED,  that in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded during consideration of agenda item 5 while the Panel discuss and agree a recommendation to the Police and Crime Commissioner regarding his proposed appointment of a Chief Constable.



Appointment of Chief Constable

To conduct a Chief Constable Confirmation Hearing.


Role of the Panel pdf icon PDF 425 KB

To consider a report from the Monitoring Officer (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:


The Monitoring Officer (Cumbria County Council) advised members on the role of the Police and Crime Panel in the appointment of the Chief Constable and the process to be followed. 


The Panel were informed they were able to:-


(1)    recommend to the Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner that the candidate should be appointed if it is satisfied they meet the required standards; or


(2)    recommend to the Commissioner that it considers the candidate meets the required standards but has a query or concern about their suitability.  Ultimately the Panel has the options of recommending to the Commissioner that the appointment not be made.  The Commissioner may accept or reject such a recommendation and must notify the Panel of his response.; or


(3)    veto the proposed appointment (this would be required to be supported by at least two?thirds of the membership of the Panel).


The Panel noted that it would publish its report within the waiting period of five working days following the date of the Confirmation Hearing.



Appointment of Chief Constable pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To consider a report from the Chief Executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:


The Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner presented a report on the appointment process that had been undertaken to select the Chief Constable for Cumbria Constabulary.  Detailed within the report were the reasons why the proposed candidate, Mrs Michelle Skeer, had been selected for consideration by the Cumbria Police and Crime Panel.  Members noted the report should be read in conjunction with the Independent Member’s report (referred to at agenda item 4(c) – minute 46c refers).



Independent Member's Report pdf icon PDF 136 KB

To consider a report from the Independent Member (copy enclosed).



The Panel considered a report from Gill Lewis, the Independent Member, relating to the appointment process.  The report provided an assessment of the extent to which the appointment process in Cumbria had been conducted fairly, openly and based on merit.  In addition it also detailed the extent to which the Panel fulfilled their responsibility to challenge and test the candidates’ suitability against the requirements of the role.


Members were informed that a relatively small pool of candidates was not uncommon at this level.  The Independent Member welcomed the stringent efforts applied to seek the best available field of candidates.  The process was considered to have been fair, with the same criteria applied to all candidates and was clearly based on merit.  It was felt that decisions had been taken on the careful analysis of evidence.


The Board were advised that the Independent Member had found the selection of the preferred candidate of Chief Constable of Cumbria had met the principles of fairness, openness and merit.


The Panel thanked Mrs Lewis for her informative and extremely useful report.





The Panel then asked Mrs Skeer a number of questions relating to her professional competence and operational independence. 


Members then asked the proposed candidate a number of questions. 


The Panel were informed that the proposed candidate had 28 years’ service with Cumbria Police and had served in every officer rank.  Mrs Skeer highlighted that during her career she had built strong relationships both within and outside the Force and was active in ongoing collaborations.  Mrs Skeer emphasised that Cumbria was at her heart and it was her ambition to serve the county of Cumbria as Chief Constable. 


Mrs Skeer appreciated the geographical spread and diversity of communities across the county and the individual policing requirements.  She considered that living in the area had given her a very sound knowledge of the community.  She also highlighted the importance of effective communication and engagement with all staff throughout the Constabulary both face to face and online to keep abreast of issues across the county.


Mrs Skeer agreed with the importance of maximising visibility of policing in communities highlighting in particular the independent police stations in the rural areas.  She informed members that the introduction of electronic devices would enable more officers to be out and visible in the communities and reduce the necessity for them to return to the centre.


The Panel drew attention to the latest statistics regarding the increase in crime in the past 12 months highlighting in particular violent and cyber/online crime.  Mrs Skeer explained there was a solid delivery plan to address those issues with local policing being a large part of this. She highlighted the introduction of successful multi?agency hubs throughout the county to address those issues and acknowledged the necessity to extend them to other areas.


Members highlighted the recent press regarding the Poppi Worthington issue and asked what lessons had been learned.  Mrs Skeer outlined her involvement in the case highlighting the misleading and wrong information which had been reported.  She explained that at the time of the incident she was employed as the Temporary Deputy Chief Constable and had no involvement or knowledge of the first investigation.  Mrs Skeer explained she was first made aware of the case 15 months after the tragic death of Poppi, following the availability of the Family Court judgement.  On reading the lessons learned document she tasked the new Head of Crime to undertake an assessment of the issues raised in the Family Court Judgement.  Following on from this assessment Mrs Skeer arranged a meeting with the Deputy Chief Constable at the time, Head of PSD and Head of Crime, where Mrs Skeer instigated the referral to the IPCC.  It was emphasised that during the course of the IPCC investigation Mrs Skeer was never under investigation for conduct and as such was never served any regulation notices under the relevant conduct regulations, she was, however, interviewed by the IPCC as a witness.  Mrs Skeer accepted the IPCC criticised her role in the referral of the matter to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46d

In accordance with Paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public left the meeting.



Appointment of Chief Constable

To discuss and agree a recommendation to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria regarding his proposed appointment of a Chief Constable.



The Panel moved into a closed session following discussions with Mrs Skeer.


Members discussed the evidence which they had heard and on being put to the vote (9 FOR and 2 abstentions) it was


RESOLVED,  that Mrs Michelle Skeer be recommended for appointment as the Chief Constable for Cumbria Constabulary.