CRITICS have hit out after a senior police officer on up to £70,000-a-year was drafted in to the crime commissioner’s office, The News can reveal.
Superintendent Paul Bartolomeo has been working in Hampshire police and crime commissioner Michael Lane’s office since this summer.
Mr Lane has defended the move after just last week appointing a £64,000-a-year deputy, former city MP Flick Drummond, sparking anger over the costs of his office.
Now The News can reveal the unusual move to appoint Supt Bartolomeo as a staff officer – a post previously filled by an inspector, which is two ranks below a superintendent.
Mr Lane has said he would instantly return the senior officer to the force if asked by the chief constable Olivia Pinkney, who had recommended the posting.
But John Apter, who represents rank-and-file officers as Hampshire Police Federation chairman, said the posting ‘sits uncomfortably’ with him at a time of budget cuts.
He said: ‘It’s for the police and crime commissioner to justify what he spends to the electorate.
‘However at a time when we are struggling to respond to 999 calls, the cost of a superintendent would fund three PCs. We have slashed police officer numbers by almost 1,000 since 2010.
‘Those left are struggling to cope with demand and this appointment will anger them.
‘Having a staff officer at the rank of superintendent and the cost that incurs sits uncomfortably with me as a police officer, and as a tax payer.’
Supt Bartolomeo holds overall responsibility for the mental health portfolio in the force, and still carries out work outside of Mr Lane’s office.
A source told The News: ‘I would think that he is there to try and build relationships and understanding to what really is going on in the police and crime commissioner’s office.
‘Certainly the cost of a superintendent, I think the chief constable would really want to get something specific for that money.’
Mr Lane said he would release Supt Bartolomeo to the force in a ‘heartbeat’ if asked but said he is contributing to his office’s work.
He said: ‘I would give back to the constabulary in a heartbeat, slightly longer, but not much longer, than the chief constable giving to me one of her skilled people.’
Mr Lane added: ‘I have been very careful about reviewing the staff officer and other uniformed officers I have in my office to make sure that we don’t do anything to take people away from operational (policing).’
Both Mr Lane and the force denied the placement of a senior officer in the post was a sign of a strained relationship between the two.
Assistant chief constable Scott Chilton, from the force, said the posting was made after ‘careful consideration’.
He said Supt Bartolomeo – who is on secondment – ‘is an experienced police officer with a breadth and depth of current operational knowledge’.
Supt Bartolomeo – who attends meetings with Mr Lane and acts as point-of-contact between him and the force – also acts as a commander for events and takes on the force commander role on a rota basis.