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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 July, 2004, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Should police chief have been suspended?
Humberside Police Chief Constable, David Westwood
The Humberside Police Authority has been ordered to suspend its chief constable by the High Court following legal action from the Home Secretary David Blunkett.

Mr Blunkett asked the High Court to enforce his demand to suspend the Chief Constable, David Westwood whose force was criticised for the poor vetting of the Soham murderer, Ian Huntley.

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You put your questions on the Bichard inquiry to Chris Atkinson from the NSPCC in an interactive forum.

The High Court ruled that Mr Blunkett was entitled to order the police authority to suspend David Westwood and ordered the move to be made "forthwith".

The Bichard inquiry examined how Ian Huntley got a job as a school caretaker and severely criticised Humberside and Cambridgeshire police forces.

Was David Blunkett right to force Humberside Police Authority to suspend Chief Constable David Westwood? Was the police authority right to resist?


This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Blunkett should resign, after all he is ultimately responsible for any failures in what seems to be the new National police force
Mike Hewitt, Whitby, North Yorkshire

David Westwood should have been sacked. His force is 2nd from bottom in the Police league. He is an absolute disgrace. He has no honour.
Jonathan Evans, Newport - Wales

An independent report slammed the police and that is where responsibility rests
Jay Raspin, London, UK
I am dismayed at the naive anti-politician comments here. An independent report slammed the police and that is where responsibility rests. A suspension seems reasonable. As for politicians taking responsibility - they do often resign and every 4 years they face the public. What do you suggest? Every time they make a mistake they stand down. Great for government, eh? In this case the police made gross errors of judgement.
Jay Raspin, London, UK

This is another ploy by the home secretary to try and cover up the mistakes of this government. David Blunkett should resign and the Chief Constable reinstated to correct their mistakes
Daphne Frampton, Winchester, UK

So now, the Home Secretary is responsible for Humberside. So I fully expect that HE will resign if there is now no improvement.
Mike, Wiltshire

A pyrrhic victory that will rebound on Blunkett, methinks.
CK Yoe, London, UK

Funny how responsibility for management incompetence never seems to be grounds for politicians to resign, but they pull out all the stops to make sure that operational managers carry the can. David Westwood would be much better used to put right the faults than to act as a scapegoat.
Andy Millward, Broxbourne, UK

It is alarming that the law giving Mr Blunkett this power does not require that he justify his demand
Richard Atkins, Wortham, UK
Here we see the difference between the law and justice. The High Court had no choice but to rule that Mr Blunkett has the power to demand David Westwood's suspension but not that it is right to do so. It is alarming that the law giving Mr Blunkett this power does not require that he justify his demand. In this case I think he would find it hard to do so.
Richard Atkins, Wortham, UK

Now that Mr Blunkett has suspended David Westwood for poor management, is he going to do the right thing and resign because of his own poor management?
Steve Price

My objection to suspension is that the taxpayer continues to pay the bill for his salary while he is not working. Hasn't David Blunkett had more than enough time to decide whether he should be dismissed or not?
John , High Wycombe, UK

I believe he should have been suspended, but that should be a decision for the police authority, not Blunkett. They should have resigned rather than accept being used as a rubber stamp.
Ganesh Sittampalam, Oxford, UK

The law is clear
Steve King, Yateley, Hants
The police authority was entirely wrong to resist the Home Secretary's moves. The law is clear and whether or not they agree with it, they should have abided by it. To insist on taxpayers' money being spent on a judicial review was ludicrous.
Steve King, Yateley, Hants

So Mr Blunkett has got his own way by enforcing a law which he wrote himself. I am deeply concerned by the grossly illiberal attitudes demonstrated by Mr Blunkett and his willingness to ride roughshod over any laws which he dislikes.
Sally Marshall, Exeter

No. As a former long time Labour supporter, Blunkett's arrogance in this matter is just a further nail in the coffin of my trust and respect for the current party leadership. David Westwood was not directly responsible and is probably the best person to start sorting the problems out. His suspension is simply a political tactic to indicate Blunkett is 'being tough' and nothing to do with finding the best way to improve matters.
Henry Easton, Bristol, UK

The police authority was right
Ruth, Poole, UK
No, David Blunkett was wrong. The police authority was right. What is the use of having a police authority if David Blunkett can force them to go against their own wishes? Anyway, if Mr Blunkett is so keen for 'the top man' to take responsibility isn't HE actually the 'top man' in this case?
Ruth, Poole, UK

Totally disgusted at Blunkett's actions. Born, bred and lived in this area, for 56 years and I do not want some upstart politico dictating to MY police authority that they should suspend a man who is becoming the Soham scapegoat.
Graham Lison, Hull, E. Yorks

David Westwood is a fall guy, nothing more. The police authority was right to resist Blunkett's tabloid ranting.
Tony Brown, London, UK

Judging by the findings of the Bichard inquiry it seems quite reasonable for the Home Secretary to order the suspension of the Chief Constable responsible. At this point it is not a sacking - merely a suspension.
Sheila, UK

It should not have come to this but fair play to the Home Secretary, despite all those criticising him, he has acted in the public interest. Those who say Sir Michael Bichard also criticised the Home Office are correct, but the mainstay of his attack was on the woeful shortcomings of the Humberside force under Mr Westwood 's command. Respect for the institutions of our society has to be based on the principle that people accept their responsibilities.
Douglas, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England

I hope Humberside Police Authority hold out on this matter. If anyone should go it is Blunkett and all those concerned. Not just Mr Westwood who is been made a scapegoat for Home Office errors.
Hip, UK

I wonder how much of my taxes were wasted on getting the chief constable suspended? This is clearly a case of the government looking for cheap scapegoats. If the chief constable should go then I believe that Blunkett should go too. He's just as much to blame.
Mike K, London, UK




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