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Police and Crime Commissioner facing backlash over 'ill-judged' choice of deputy

By Peter Madeley | Walsall | Crime | Published:

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner is facing a rebellion from his own crime panel after his choice of deputy was branded "unsuitable for the job".

West Midlands Police Crime Panel is set to oppose Waheed Saleem's nomination for deputy PCC

Labour PCC David Jamieson nominated his former assistant Waheed Saleem for the senior role last month, praising his work on police recruitment and improving the way fraud is investigated.

But the West Midlands Police Crime Panel, which holds the PCC to account, is set to reject the appointment after Labour and Conservative members raised concerns over his past behaviour.

Some of the concerns relate to an episode in 2004, when Mr Saleem, a Labour councillor in Walsall at the time, was barred from holding public office after he was found to have leaked commercially sensitive information.

Councillor Mike Bird, the Tory leader of Walsall Council, who sits on the crime panel, said: "I think it was probably very ill-judged by the Police and Crime Commissioner to even consider Waheed Saleem as a deputy.

"I am aware that there is great unease among Labour and Conservative members of the panel regarding this applicant, who many consider to be unsuitable for the job.

"We have history with him in Walsall, and I think Mr Jamieson will not get the support of the panel to confirm his appointment."

The panel considered the issue at a meeting last week and is yet to make its decision public. It is understood that no other candidates were interviewed for the post, which carries an annual salary of more than £56,000.

Mr Saleem was a councillor in Palfrey in 2004 when the Independent Adjudication Panel for England found he had leaked commercially sensitive information about a bid in a council property sale.

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He disclosed the highest bid to an unsuccessful bidder, Abu Bakr Girls School, enabling them to submit a higher bid.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson's choice of candidate has been opposed

His actions were deemed to amount to serious misconduct and he was banned from holding public office anywhere in the country for a year.

Mr Saleem has said he was a newly-elected councillor at the time and has since learned from his mistake.

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In 2015 he took over as chair of governors at Park View School, which was at the centre of the Trojan Horse scandal, before going on to serve for three years on the Strategic Policing and Crime Board, which holds the Chief Constable to account. He has been an assistant PCC since last May.

In a letter supporting Mr Saleem, Mr Jamieson said he had helped to improve the "voice of business" in the force, and had "a unique understanding of the causes of crime and how to reduce it".

His nomination has also been opposed by Jay Singh-Sohal, the Conservative candidate for West Midlands PCC at next year's election.

He said Mr Saleem was "a completely unsuitable choice for deputy" which called Mr Jamieson's judgement into question.

"What the West Midlands doesn’t need is a divisive deputy," he said. "What we do need is a commissioner who is up to the job."

Birmingham Northfield MP Gary Sambrook, said: "This decision demonstrates a serious lack of judgment.

"Mr Saleem found it difficult to keep sensitive information secret, and the PCC now wants to trust him with confidential information on how we keep our streets safe, serious crime and public protection – it would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious."

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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