LibDems slam ‘new’ chief constable over taxi checks

Oldham taxis

Oldham’s Liberal Democrat Party has discovered that, despite Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council warning Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in December 2018 that the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS check) wasn’t good enough for taxi licensing, the Council still haven’t had a promised response.

The recent Assurance Review into historic CSE in Oldham found that GMP initially ignored the Council’s concerns about the working of DBS checks for taxi licensing, submitted in December 2018, but the new Chief Constable of GMP, Stephen Watson, had responded to those Council’s concerns set out in a letter as far back as December 2018.

The Review, in one of many errors by omission (read more here), did not detail when Stephen Watson responded or what his reply contained.

Mark Kenyon, Liberal Democrat councillor for Grotton, Springhead & Lees, said:

“We’ve quizzed Council further and they’ve confirmed that whilst Stephen Watson was appointed as the new chief constable in May 2021, the Council only received a reply in October 2021. This promised a ‘review’ into the Council’s concerns about DBS checks and their suitability for taxi licensing and public safety.

“It’s now July 2022, and Council have revealed that GMP have still not been back in touch, let alone helped with the requirement for extra vetting.”

Fellow Liberal Democrat Councillor, Sam Al-Hamdani, said:

“It took the new chief constable five months to reply to a serious public safety concern from the Council. It’s now ten months since his promise to do a review and he’s still not contacted the Council. We’ve asked that the Mayor, the Chief Constable and the Council get their act together and sort this out. Talk is cheap. Actions have meaning. Andy Burnham [whom as Greater Manchester Mayor has political oversight of GMP] and the new Chief Constable must deliver on this public safety priority”.

On the day of his appointment last year, CC Watson promised the supine local and regional press that, if he hadn’t turned GMP around within two years, he would resign. Fourteen months on, and with the running of the force appearing, on all the independent evidence, to get worse rather than better, Mayor Burnham might be well advised to start casting the net for his replacement.

There was a single public voice railing against the Watson appointment: The author of this article, Neil Wilby. Well aware of his shortcomings at two previous incumbencies in Durham Constabulary (as deputy chief) and South Yorkshire Police (as chief).

Page last updated Wednesday 20th July, 2022 at 1655hrs

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Picture credits: Oldham Council

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2022. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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