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Hampshire's deputy chief constable is quizzed by public
IT was an unprecedented move and one that even the most confident job candidate probably would not relish.
Hampshire’s deputy chief constable Andy Marsh had already spent two long days trying to convince the county’s new police and crime commissioner, and his panel of experts, why he is the best man to lead one of the biggest police forces in the country.
But despite excelling himself in every field, with impressive scores in each of the 17 areas he was assessed on and far outscoring three other police chiefs bidding to be Hampshire’s next top cop, there was another rather large hurdle he had yet to jump.
Under a new system of governing the police, brought in when the old police authority was abolished and replaced with a commissioner last November, Mr Marsh was to be among the first to be publicly quizzed over whether he was indeed the right man.
The 46-year-old was summoned before the new police and crime panel – a room full of councillors representing every authority in Hampshire and a handful of independent members – to answer their questions before they voted him in or out.
The confirmation will be made on Thursday morning, ahead of the current boss, Alex Marshall, leaving his post to become the chief executive of the new National Policing College at midnight on Sunday.
The panel was told how Mr Marsh has the personal integrity, the vision, the ability to lead and inspire and had policing at his very core – attributes that police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes says make him the perfect choice.
Put under the spotlight, Mr Marsh told the panel his best qualities were humility and modesty – saying he wouldn’t always have the right answer, that sometimes others would know better than him and that when required you need to be big enough to admit when you get things wrong. But he said that good leadership was essential, adding “without that you haven’t got anything”, while integrity was vital, particularly in light of the Leveson inquiry, the Hillsborough report and the Plebgate scandal with Mr Marsh keen to “let the public back into policing”.
The best way to do that, he said, was by listening to survivors of crime like domestic violence, meeting people face to face and letting those police officers and staff closest to the situation make the right choices.
He told the panel: “You need to be able to trust the police and I want to be at the heart of an organisation that people can trust,” before adding that he intended to be “putting myself about a bit”. He plans meeting as many of his 3,463 police officers, 2,139 staff, 575 special constables and 343 police community support officers as he could.
It is those employees, their number already cut back by more than 1,000 as the force strives to save £55m over four years, who he intends to “galvanise”, “empower” and “steer through choppy waters” he said.
Already his email inbox is becoming flooded with suggestions of “good ideas” he could implement if he becomes the new chief, said Mr Marsh, who currently joins police patrols on the ground once a month but fully intends to do more so he knows exactly what his frontline officers are dealing with.
He’s also not a man afraid of making unpopular decisions and isn’t scared of taking people down the line if he believes they have let themselves, the force and, most importantly the victim down, he told the hearing.
On the wall of his office at Winchester’s police headquarters is a poster reminding him of the values he holds and the promises he made when he first joined the service. It is that, Mr Marsh says, that will help him make the “difficult decisions in life” in a rapidly changing era for policing.