Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane is delighted to announce that Mr Peter Astley MBE has been appointed as the new Chief of Staff for the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) undertaking the role of head of the Commissioner's staff.
Mr Astley previously worked alongside David Keane at Warrington Borough Council where he held the position of Assistant Director of Regulation and Protection until he resigned in March 2017.
A statement from the Commissioner's Office said Mr Astleys' appointment to this role, which has a salary range of between £75,841 and £79,890, came "after a rigorous recruitment process which included a paper application, shortlisting, medical, personality questionnaires and police vetting".
Following the recruitment process Mr Astley attended a confirmation hearing with the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel, which maintains a regular check and balance on the performance of the Commissioner. However, they refused to endorse his appointment.
Councillor Howard Murray, Chairman of the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel, wrote to the Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane following the hearing saying "It is with great regret that the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel cannot on this occasion support your candidate for the position of Chief of Staff for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire. This was an unanimous decision of the Panel following the Confirmation Hearing held on the evening of Wednesday 12 July in Winford."
Councillor Murray added a separate document containing a summary of the principle reasons for the decision taken by the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel but this has not been placed in the public domain.
Councillor Howard Murray told me "The Panel has received formal LGA guidance as well as legal advice from CEC that the Annex should not be published. This was known before the hearing and hence the reason why the Panel's rationale for their recommendation was attached as an Annex.
"The Panel examined the candidate's suitability across two broad categories: professional competence and personal independence.
"On this occasion Panel members represented three of the four Cheshire Boroughs, were cross party and included two Independent persons (not Cllrs). Many of us have extensive experience of the policing landscape and 4 of those at the confirmation hearing have previously been members of the Police Authority."
Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane, who earns £75,000, is supported by an office of 11 staff including the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Sareda Dirir who earns £50,000.
The other members of staff are Chief Finance Officer, Head of Governance, Head of Policy and Partnerships, Commissioning Officer Community & Safety, Commissioning Officer Victims, Communications Officer, Performance Analyst, Governance Officer, Senior Administration Officer and Administration Officer.
On announcing the appointment Commissioner David Keane said: "Peter Astley is a high achieving and dedicated senior leader in the public sector who has a wealth of experience at leading high profile and important regulatory services such as planning, licensing and environmental health. Peter not only has exceptional leadership skills, that are directly relevant to the role of Chief of Staff, but also has considerable experience in working closely with the police at a local, regional, national and international level."
Mr Keane continued: "Peter performed exceptionally well throughout the recruitment process and was consistently the highest scoring candidate. I am aware that following their hearing the members of Police & Crime Panel in attendance made the decision not to recommend appointment; however, on this occasion the Panel's recommendation is against the outcome and findings of a robust recruitment exercise. The Stakeholder Interview Panel, which was attended by the Chief Constable (and Chair of the Criminal Justice Board), the Chief Fire Officer, the Chair of the Fire Authority, a local authority Deputy Leader as well as the Vice Chair of the Police & Crime Panel, provided very positive feedback. This also translated to interview where Mr Astley performed exceptionally well and was the highest scoring candidate."
The Panel maintains a regular check and balance on the performance of the Commissioner.