Police Commissioner announces preferred candidate to be her Deputy

PCC Emily Spurrell with Cllr Jeanie Bell (L-R)

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has today announced the preferred candidate to be her Deputy, working alongside her to build a stronger, safer Merseyside.

Emily Spurrell has confirmed that, following an open selection process, St Helens Councillor Jeanie Bell is her choice to take up the role of Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.

Cllr Bell will now go before the body which scrutinises the Commissioner’s work, the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel, for a confirmation hearing on Thursday 1st December, when they will review the appointment and consider her suitability for the role.

The Newton-le-Willows Ward Councillor, who is currently Cabinet Member for Safer Stronger Community in St Helens, will deputise for the Commissioner when necessary while also leading on a number of key policing and community safety portfolios.

Cllr Bell was selected as the preferred candidate following a transparent recruitment process which saw 14 people apply for the part-time position and four people offered interviews. The interviews, which also required candidates to deliver a presentation in a community meeting scenario, were carried out by the Commissioner, her Chief Executive, Susan McTaggart MBE, and Leader of Knowsley Council Cllr Graham Morgan, and were independently observed by a member of the Police and Crime Panel.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “The calibre of candidates that applied for this position was extremely high, but Jeanie stood out as having the experience, commitment, and passion for this role.

“She is already very knowledgeable about policing and community safety issues and has demonstrated a clear focus on building stronger, safer communities. She is committed to improving the care and support on offer to victims of crime, while also pushing for change in the criminal justice system and I have no doubt she will be a hard-working and dedicated representative for the people of Merseyside. I am delighted to announce that she is my preferred candidate for the role.

“As part of the recent review of the PCC role, the Home Office indicated their intention to make it mandatory for Deputies to be appointed. I have taken the decision to prepare in advance for this change, while also providing additional resilience in my office – a move which has been encouraged by the Police and Crime Panel. This decision will now be reviewed by its members, and I look forward to receiving their assessment of this appointment.”

Cllr Bell, who is currently head of Criminal Justice at The Brain Charity, has served as St Helens Cabinet Member for Community Safety since May 2019. She is also the Local Government Association Licensing Champion, having previously served as the Council’s Chair of Licensing, as well as Cabinet Member for Public Health, Libraries and Leisure.

Prior to being elected eight years ago, Cllr Bell was a curriculum leader and lecturer in public services at St Helens College, as well as being a key worker for young people aged 14-16 who were not in education, employment or training. She has also worked in secure hospitals for offenders and Young Offenders’ Institutes.

Cllr Bell said: “I am thrilled to have been selected as the Commissioner’s preferred candidate for the role of Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.

“I have been passionate about championing the interests of the people I represent and working to build stronger, safer communities, both in my roles prior to becoming a Councillor and since being elected to serve the people of Newton-le-Willows in May 2014.

“Over the last eight years, I have been committed to working with a host of partners to make a difference in the communities I’ve served, and I am excited about having the opportunity to support and work alongside the Police Commissioner, helping to give a strong voice to people from across the whole of Merseyside.”

The Panel are required to hold a confirmation hearing within three weeks of being notified of the Commissioner’s preferred candidate. They do not have the power to veto the appointment but will provide a public report with their recommendation.

Cllr Bell would join the Commissioner’s office on a fixed term contract, working three days a week for a salary of £33,537 per annum.

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 provides Police Commissioners with the statutory power to appoint a Deputy. There is no specific guidance or criteria on the process, and it is entirely up to the Commissioner who is appointed and how the selection is carried out.