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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 November 2006, 19:52 GMT
MPs slam police chief 'gimmicks'
Richard Brunstrom
Richard Brunstrom is one of the UK's most high-profile policemen
A group of north Wales Labour MPs have met to discuss their "concerns" over chief constable Richard Brunstrom.

One, Wrexham's Ian Lucas, accused him of ignoring requests to meet MPs, and another, Albert Owen, said he had been "scaremongering" about job cuts.

Another MP, Mark Tami, claimed Mr Brunstrom had wasted a "frightening" amount of money on "gimmicks".

The force said it would be happy to provide a "compelling response" if Mr Tami put his points directly to them.

It is important Mr Brunstrom focuses on spending public money on policing, rather than self-promotion, fashion alterations, internal witch hunts and costly gimmicks
Mark Tami MP

The criticism of Mr Brunstrom comes two days after North Wales Police announced it was being forced to cut 120 jobs because of a funding shortfall.

The police chief blamed a reduction in funding combined with a possible cap on council tax rises. He said the UK government had put "police finance into a really dreadful mess".

Mr Lucas said the Labour group met members of the North Wales Police Authority two weeks ago to discuss concerns over funding and they promised to raise the matter with the Home Office. Mr Brunstrom did not attend the meeting.

He said: "We wrote to him about three months ago to ask for a meeting, but I don't think we've had a response.

"Perhaps he's too busy writing his blog," he added, referring to the police chief's controversial regular web diary.

Ian Lucas MP
Ian Lucas MP has asked for a meeting with Richard Brunstrom

"He's issuing highly politicised press releases attacking the government, but he doesn't keep us informed and as elected members we have to deal with a lot of concerns from our constituents over policing issues.

"It's not a professional way to run a police force."

He said the north Wales Labour group had fought hard for extra resources and had also supported the police authority in successfully opposing plans for an all-Wales force.

But he said Mr Brunstrom did not apply for funding for police community support officers three years ago because he did not believe in the idea.

Mr Tami is entitled to answers... and were he to put his points directly and appropriately to the force, he would receive a compelling response
Deputy chief constable Clive Wolfendale

Mr Tami said: "Today there are more police than ever before in north Wales, but there has also been a frightening amount of money wasted on gimmicks.

"Questions should be asked about how much the free publications sent to all households cost.

"These publications featured a poem entitled 'Thank Heavens for Richard Brunstrom' which many of my constituents found distasteful.

"How much was also spent on changing the colour of the uniform? How much was wasted in a ludicrous internal inquiry into leaked police authority papers that resulted in its members having DNA samples taken?"

He added: "From now on I think it is important Mr Brunstrom focuses on spending public money on policing, rather than self-promotion, fashion alterations, internal witch hunts and costly gimmicks."

Mark Tami MP
Mark Tami says large amounts of money are being wasted

But deputy chief constable Clive Wolfendale said the force had recently been graded "excellent" for its resource management.

He added: "Mark Tami's press release seems unnecessarily defensive and not a little frantic.

"As a member of parliament, Mr Tami is entitled to answers to all the questions he raises, and were he to put his points directly and appropriately to the force, he would receive a compelling response."

Ynys Mon MP Albert Owen said he was "outraged" at Mr Brunstrom's handling of the recent job cuts announcement.

He said: "I think a competent police officer would not look to scaremonger in the first instance, and look for alternatives."

Mr Owen said he and his colleagues wanted a meeting with Mr Brunstrom, and had requested one since June.

"We are not happy to read in the press about jobs cuts especially as we are working with the police authority on a number of complex funding issues," he said.

Mr Owen said it was for the police authority to decide whether or not Mr Brunstrom remained in post as chief constable.

Assistant chief constable Ian Shannon said he was "surprised" by the MPs' comments, and the force had received glowing reports during recent assessments.

He added: "The chief constable is currently on a firearms command course in the south of England and is unavailable today to respond to the comments himself."




SEE ALSO
No action over police chief blog
26 Oct 06 |  North West Wales
Police chief airs views in blog
19 Jul 06 |  North East Wales

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