Chief Constable: Dudley Council leader's 'disrespectful' comments undermine policing

The region's top cop has suggested a council leader had "undermined policing" by criticising one of his officers in a row over travellers.

West Midlands Police Chief Constable Sir David Thompson
West Midlands Police Chief Constable Sir David Thompson

Sir David Thompson said Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley's "disrespectful" comments about Chief Superintendent Kim Madill were "unusual and unexpected".

He insisted policing was "operationally independent of politics" and made a plea for "respect" between the force and other public bodies.

It comes after Councillor Harley was found to have breached Dudley Council's code of conduct over comments made about Ch Supt Madill's handling of a group of travellers at the Budden Road transit site in Coseley.

He was hauled in front of a standards committee earlier this month, after accusing Ch Supt Madill of belonging to the “woke brigade”.

In an email to police staff, seen by the Express & Star, Sir David wrote: "Police officers do an important job and deserve to be treated with respect.

"Disrespectful, ill-founded personal comments to officers undermine policing whether they are through behaviour on the streets or from the offices of important and influential people."

Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley

Sir David said he welcomed the findings of Dudley Council's standards committee, which ruled Councillor Harley's comments were "disrespectful, unwarranted and inappropriate".

"Policing is operationally independent of politics, we make decisions based on the law, without fear or favour," he added.

"However, we always seek to work closely in partnership with other agencies for the public good.

"We can disagree but we must respect each others' roles and decisions. We have a very good relationship with Dudley MBC and these comments were unusual and unexpected."

Chief Superintendent Kim Madill

Mr Harley had criticised Ch Supt Madill after she refused to move on a group of travellers in November 2021, citing concerns over their human rights.

He said her actions breached an agreed protocol intended to prevent travellers from staying at the Budden Road site for longer than 28 days.

In response to the Chief Constable, Mr Harley said: "Having spoken to many rank and file officers, it is clear they are supportive of the stance I took.

"The Chief Constable's words ring hollow. This was clearly politically motivated – and the standards board clearly agreed by giving me the lightest possible sanction.

"However, I do wish Mr Thompson a happy retirement."

Mr Harley was unapologetic after the standards committee ruling, which found he had showed "leadership" but had not treated Ch Supt Madill with respect.

He maintained her actions were "inappropriately politically motivated".

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