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Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner criticised

Richard Rhodes, Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Credit: ITV News Border

A police watchdog has criticised Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes for his handling of the scandal over his use of a chauffeur-driven car.

The Cumbria Police and Crime Panel said they were disappointed that statements he made at the time were "unclear" but add they are satisfied that he has now changed his travel arrangements.

Mr Rhodes was forced to apologise last month when it was revealed he had used a chauffeur-driven car at a cost of £700.

Prime Minister to investigate Cumbria's Police Commissioner

The Prime Minister has said he will investigate the actions of Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner following the arrest of three whistleblowers last week.

Details of how Richard Rhodes hired a chauffer driven Mercedes at a cost of almost £700 were leaked to a local newspaper.

Following a complaint by the Commissioner's office, three arrests were made, but Mr Rhodes insists that complaint did not come from him.

The Prime Minister was responding to a question from the Cumbrian MP Tim Farron:

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Latest statement on suspension of Stuart Hyde

In accordance with Police Regulations, Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes has undertaken the four weekly review of the suspension of Temporary Chief Constable Stuart Hyde.

Whilst South Wales Police are still investigating the allegations he has decided that Mr Hyde will remain suspended.

"As part of the Police Regulations I have to undertake a four weekly review of the suspension of Temporary Chief Constable Stuart Hyde in order to consider whether it is necessary for the officer to remain suspended.

"Following a full briefing and given that the investigation by South Wales Police continues I have decided that Temporary Chief Constable Stuart Hyde should remain suspended.

“South Wales Police are investigating allegations made about the standards of Stuart Hyde's professional behaviour in his activities whilst at Cumbria Constabulary.

"Wide ranging enquiries have been necessary, which have included interviewing a number of witnesses as well as collating and analysing a considerable volume of documentary evidence.

"It is for this reason that the external investigation remains ongoing.

“As Commissioner, I take all allegations against any police officer seriously. The allegations against Temporary Chief Constable Hyde must be addressed in an appropriate manner and following the process set out in the legislative scheme.

"I stress that suspension is a neutral act that will enable a full and thorough investigation by South Wales Police to take place.

– Richard Rhodes, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria

Temporary Chief Constable Lawson will continue in his temporary role.

Crime Commissioner to give press conference

Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes will give a press conference at 2 o'clock. He's expected to comment on his expenses and an ongoing police investigation into the alleged leaking of information.

The press conference follows a statement that was released yesterday:

Operational policing matters are the responsibility of the Chief Constable. I do not have the powers to instigate or influence an operational policing investigation and the decision to commence an investigation has been made by solely the Chief Constable. I have not received an update on the investigation other than what has been released in the public domain to allow the Chief Constable his full operational independence.

Nothing more than concerns were raised by my Office... and a criminal investigation was not requested. All subsequent actions... have been made solely by the Constabulary.

Three people have been arrested as part of the police investigation into leaked information.

Mr Rhodes has paid back a £700 expense claim for 2 chauffeured Mercedes trips. The details were released as part of a freedom of information act request, but were due to be made pubic later in the year.

Commissioner begins public engagement meetings

Richard Rhodes talks to community members Credit: ITV News Border

Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes has started a series of public engagement meetings.

At the Living Well community centre in Raffles, Carlisle, Mr Rhodes spoke to community groups and asked what they wanted from the police.

For over an hour the commissioner listened to local issues.

Office of Public Engagement launched in Carlisle

Richard Rhodes, Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Credit: ITV News Border

Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes, is launching his Office of Public Engagement at the Living Well Trust in Carlisle.

The purpose of the office is to allow the public to meet with Mr Rhodes and share their views on his policing.

Over the course of the year there will be a number of activities held, such as regular surgeries and visits to town centres and county shows .

Primarily, Mr Rhodes will be focusing on people's views about the budget, policing priorities, quality of service and victim services.

Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes, said:

"As Police and Crime Commissioner, I am elected to provide a voice for the public in policing Cumbria and to ensure that people's views are considered in key decision making.

"I am at the Living Well Trust talking to people to hear first-hand their experiences and what matters most to them.

"The Office of Public Engagement is being established to guarantee a direct dialogue between the Commissioner (my role) and the general public.

"It has a variety of activities proposed to allow for peoples preferences of how they would like to communicate.

"I understand that often people with a busy working life like to communicate from the comfort of their own home at a night with others prefer the more traditional way of face-to-face both are equally important and are included along with a host of other methods."

Members of the public are being encouraged to come along to the events and share their thoughts with Mr Rhodes.

You can find out when the events are being held by clicking here.

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Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner's first 100 days in office

Richard Rhodes, Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Credit: ITV News Border

Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes, has spent just over 100 days in his new role.

Mr Rhodes, who was elected in November, is responsible for holding the police force and the Chief Constable to account as well as giving Cumbrian people a way of influencing policing matters.

He said:

"The first 100 days have been incredibly busy.

"I look forward to the next 100 days being as equally challenging, rewarding and further building on partnership working particularly at district council level.

"Only by working together will we make Cumbria an even safer place to live, work and visit."

Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner budget

Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner has had his first budget approved.

The Police and Crime Panel unanimously accepted Richard Rhodes proposal to raise council tax to avoid cutting the number of frontline officers over the next two years.

He also outlined his priorities for the force to tackle over the next twelve months.

Ryan Dollard has the full report:

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