North Yorkshire Police Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe has rejected a watchdog’s calls to delay appointing a new chief constable for over a year, protesting it would not be in the public interest.

Members of the Police, Crime and Fire Panel, which maintains a check and balance on the performance of the commissioner, passed a vote recommending that moves to appoint a new chief constable should be paused.

Present chief constable Lisa Winward has resigned and is due to leave next March. The panel said the resignation has come at an “inopportune time” amid the forthcoming election up of a new mayor for the region as part of the political shake-up for North Yorkshire.

Mrs Metcalfe said temporary leadership for many months to come would not be in the public’s best interest, as if the appointment was put on hold until after the election of a mayor the county would not get a new chief constable until April 2025.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Expert advice from the main policing bodies recommended appointments such as chief constables be made without delay, she said, adding that, despite informing the panel members of this, the majority had voted in favour of a delay.

Rejecting the recommendation, the commissioner said: “As the single elected individual with responsibility for the totality of policing and crime for York and North Yorkshire, I have a duty to ensure that the force has outstanding, inspirational long-term leadership to keep our communities safe and feeling safe.

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“I was surprised that some panel members saw fit to substitute their preference, not just for my decision, but for the considered professional views of all national stakeholders with a remit for excellence in police leadership.

“It gives me no pleasure to say that the recommendations of those key national stakeholders outweigh the panel’s recommendation. I stand by my decision. This is a crucial time for the programme of improvements for North Yorkshire Police.

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“Delay in establishing clear leadership would be wrong. The recruitment is getting underway and will proceed on schedule.

“The role of chief constable of North Yorkshire Police is a terrific opportunity for an inspirational, visionary chief police officer.

"The process for selection will be open, rigorous, exciting and challenging, and will involve a broad range of local and national key partner organisations so that York and North Yorkshire can be sure that we have the very best of police leadership for our communities.”