Police panel to probe AB1 plate claims - The Evesham Observer

Police panel to probe AB1 plate claims

Evesham Editorial 5th Feb, 2018   0

THE CONTOVERSIAL sale of an historic number plate to a former West Mercia Police chief constable will be examined at County Hall despite the Police and Crime Commissioner being cleared of any wrong-doing.

Members of the West Mercia Police and Crime Panel will meet on Tuesday to scrutinise the decision by John Campion to sell the ‘AB1’ number plate to Paul West for £160,000 despite initally putting it up for action.

AB1 was the first vehicle registration number plate issued to the county in 1903 but was withdrawn from use in 2011 due to the security concerns associated with having such an easily identifiable mark on the Chief Constable’s vehicle.

Mr Campion provoked a storm of criticism in the summer when he put it up for sale before it was controverisally withdrawn from auction after Mr West made an offer to the Police and Crime Commissioner for the historic piece.

A number of complaints were made to the Indepedent Office for Police Conduct which included claims AB1 wasn’t Mr Campion’s to sell and the lack of a guarantee it would not be sold on in future.

In a report to councillors, Police and Crime Comissioner chief executive Andy Champness said no higher offers for AB1 had been recieved by Mr Campion despite a number of people claiming they would willing to pay more than Mr West’s offer.

The IOPC ruled there was no sufficient substance to the allegations Mr Campion committed a criminal offence for them to consider an investigation and referred the matter back to the authority’s Police and Crime Panel.

Members will therefore scrutinise the AB1 sale to find out ‘who did what, when and why’ in a bid to resolve the issues surrounding the contoversial sale.

The meeting comes months after Conservative county councillors rejected calls from Labour for Mr Campion to appear before the Police and Crime Panel to be scrutinised over the sale of AB1.

Speaking at the time, Labour leader Coun Peter McDonald said the sale had left ‘nasty question marks hanging over the Police and Crime Commissoner’s office.

“The public, I believe, see this as the selling off of the family jewels and gives off the perception of not being quite right,” he said.

However, Coun Marcus Hart, cabinet member for Education and Skills rubbished the claims and defended Mr Campion

“I am no expert in numberplates but I am confident the Commissoner will be able to demonstrate title and best value for money.”

In a statement, Mr Campion said: “I recognise this is an emotive subject for some and that those individuals are upset with the decision to sell AB1.

“I believe the public support my drive to use the resources at my disposal, including an unused private number plate to support policing and keeping communities safe.”

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