Independent Police Complaints Commission to probe historic Facebook comments by police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite

Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner Councillor Jason Ablewhite

Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner Councillor Jason Ablewhite - Credit: Terry Harris Photography

Two complaints made against the £70,000 a year police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite are to be investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The decision to ask the IPCC to step in was made by a complaints sub committee of the Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Panel.

Earlier this month the panel was told of the complaints made against Cllr Ablewhite and a sub committee appointed to discuss them.

The sub committee was asked to decide whether the complaints against the commissioner were serious enough to be referred to the IPCC.

In a published account of their findings, the panel has decided the IPCC should be asked to investigate.

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Both complaints relate to comments made by Cllr Ablewhite on social media in November 2009.

“While these comments were made some years ago, these complaints are considered as the commissioner is a relevant office holder,” the police and crime panel was told by legal officers.

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Members were told both complaints had been recorded in accordance with the Elected Local Policing Bodies (Complaints and Misconduct) regulations.

.The background to the complaints stem from what Cllr Ablewhite had described as “light hearted banter” on Facebook and the comments about ‘pikeys’ had been made privately.

He said: “The comments were not meant to cause offence and I believe they have been taken totally out of context.”

However The National Alliance of Gypsy Traveller & Roma Women was unhappy. Their call for Cllr Ablewhite to be suspended ahead of the commissioner elections was rejected by Conservative Party officials.

The IPCC oversees the police complaints system in England and Wales and sets the standards by which the police should handle complaints. It is independent, making its decisions entirely independently of the police and government. It is not part of the police.

Police forces deal with the majority of complaints against police officers and police staff. The IPCC considers appeals from people who are dissatisfied with the way a police force has dealt with their complaint. Since November 2012 the responsibility for determining appeals is shared with local police forces.

In addition, police forces must refer the most serious cases – whether or not someone has made a complaint – to the IPCC. The IPCC may decide to investigate such cases independently, manage or supervise the police force’s investigation, or return it for local investigation.

As part of its role in securing and maintaining public confidence in the complaints system, the IPCC uses learning from its work to influence changes in policing, ensure accountability and spread best practice and high standards of customer service.

The IPCC is also responsible for dealing with serious complaints and conduct matters relating to staff at the National Crime Agency (NCA), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Home Office immigration and enforcement staff.

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