COMMENT: Timing could be better for under-fire commissioner

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At a time when there is a national row brewing over the impact of police cuts on violent crime, it could be seen as unfortunate timing for a police crime commissioner to be looking for a highly-paid assistant.

The office of Hampshire’s embattled PCC Michael Lane is hunting for an assistant police and crime commissioner to advise on criminal justice.

The role would come come with a salary of up to £60,000 a year. Mr Lane has already lost a key budget vote over proposals to move £440,000 into his revenue budget at the same time specialist police jobs were being cut.

And police officers have been polled in a confidence vote on Mr Lane led by Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter. While the outcome of this vote cannot force any change on Mr Lane’s office, it could certainly make life uncomfortable.

Former Conservative Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond also quit her role as his appointed deputy after just several weeks by mutual agreement.

It is against this background that the two-year posting for the ‘unique and influential’ job has been announced.

Of course the PCC’s office requires experts and well-experienced candidates in key roles. But the timing for Mr Lane is far from great.

As the current Portsmouth South MP, Labour’s Stephen Morgan puts it, it’s a ‘kick in the teeth’ when our communities appear to be suffering from rising crime.

Given the choice, most people would undoubtedly prefer extra police on the streets.

Mr Lane obviously has his reasons for wanting the assistant, but public perception is crucial to an elected official.

And the people of Hampshire will surely let Mr Lane know what they think when he comes up for re-election in 2020.