Council won’t comment on handling of PCC complaints

Festus Akinbusoye Image (c)Festus Akinbusoye
Festus Akinbusoye. Image: Festus Akinbusoye

Bedford Borough Council has not commented on how it handled the complaints made against Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye.

Before the resident’s complaints were heard in private by the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel’s Complaints Sub-Committee (March 25) the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) asked if the findings would be published.

Jahangir Ahmed, the council’s head of legal services (interim) and deputy monitoring officer, said they would not.

Although the findings were not to be published, summaries of the findings were leaked on social media and on a local group’s website.

The LDRS understands that the council’s legal and administration teams were advised that the Sub-Committee’s findings may be published by the complainant.

But they ignored this advice, a source said.

The LDRS asked if the council was looking to sanction the complainant for making the findings public, and if it will be apologising to the PCC for the breach of confidentiality.

It did not respond.

In a statement sent to the BBC and LDRS, Festus Akinbusoye said: “The complaints process is not yet completed, and it is quite shocking that the complainant has released the findings of the panel sub-committee before I have had the opportunity to respond to them, so I am limited as to what I can say for legal reasons.

“I can however say, I totally reject and refute the findings of the Panel and will be responding fully as part of the formal process in due course.

“It will be very concerning to any objective observer looking at this process, that an independent Police and Crime Panel decided to hold a sub-committee complaint hearing a day before the election regulated period commenced.

“The timing of the Panel’s intervention is therefore deeply regrettable.

“It is sadly not the first time the Police and Crime Panel has inserted itself yet again into an election campaign where I am a candidate, resulting in public accusations of bullying and interference by one of its own members.

“I remain fully focused on my positive campaign to be re-elected as Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner on Thursday May 2 while continuing to fulfil all my duties on behalf of residents,” he said.

The LDRS asked the borough council if the complaint process has only been partially completed, and if the PCC was able to address the complaints.

But it did not respond at the time of publication.

This is the second time the panel has held a complaints sub-committee shortly before a PCC election, but Mr Ahmed insists that it was merely a “coincidence”.