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Locals are wanted for top jobs, says minister

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JERSEY-BORN police officers are wanted for the top jobs in the Island’s force, the Home Affairs Minister has said, as he stressed succession planning is ‘very important’ for the force.

Home Affairs Minister Len Norman Picture: DAVID FERGUSON.Len Norman. (26608470)

St Clement Constable Len Norman said the new States police chief Robin Smith, who has 30 years’ experience in the UK and is due to start in January, stood out as a candidate for the job because of his ‘passion for community policing’ and vast experience.

Mr Smith is the current Assistant Chief Constable for British Transport Police and was gold commander during the Manchester Arena and London Bridge terror attacks.

But many Islanders and some politicians have questioned the need for someone from the UK to be drafted in for the top job. There has not been a Jersey-born chief since Bob Le Breton, who retired in 2000 and died in 2012.

Current acting deputy chief James Wileman, who is a former Victoria College student and the force’s most senior-ranked officer, applied for the top job but was unsuccessful.

Mr Norman has stressed that he does want to see ‘local talent developed to take on the most senior roles in the future’.

He told the Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel that a decision on who would be appointed as the new permanent deputy chief – or even if there would be such a role at all – would not be made until the new year, once Mr Smith has started.

Mr Norman said: ‘If it is decided that we are not going to have a deputy chief and we are going to have a different structure then the law will have to be changed and it will come to the States for approval.’

The minister added: ‘The police have been through a particularly traumatic time since Mike Bowron retired with death [of chief officer Rob Bastable] and illness and people leaving. The top level had been decimated at one point. So succession planning is very important and that will be a major role for the new chief. We want local talent to be developed to take on the most senior roles in the future.’

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The head of service for Customs and Immigration and the Fire & Rescue chief are both from Jersey.

The minister added that much had been made about Mr Smith’s background as a gold commander during major terrorist incidents in the UK.

Panel Member Deputy Trevor Pointon asked if such skills would be needed for a role in Jersey. The minister replied: ‘One would hope not but we have to remind ourselves that we are not immune to activities that nasty people might perpetrate. Those are skills and experience but they are three [terror] incidents in a whole career, there is more to our new police chief than that.’

Meanwhile, Mr Wileman confirmed that a recruitment drive for trainee officers had been completed. A total of 29 new recruits have been offered roles to start at various points in 2020. A further ten officers have been or are due to be taken on after transferring from UK forces.

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
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