Former Peterborough and Cambridgeshire crime chief resigned after police complaint over social media messages

The former Police and Crime Commissioner for Peterborough and Cambridgeshire resigned after a complaint was made about messages he sent on social media, it has been revealed.

Tuesday, 12th November 2019, 5:08 pm

As the PT exclusively revealed, Jason Ablewhite quit the £85,000 a year role yesterday (Monday), four days after he had been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Jason Ablewhite

Initially there was secrecy over the reasons for the referral with the IOPC only revealing that it was about a “public complaint” into his conduct, while the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner refused to disclose any information.

However, the IOPC has today issued an updated statement. It said: “The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is independently investigating the alleged conduct of the former Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Cambridgeshire following a referral by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Police and Crime Panel.

“The referral followed a complaint made by a member of the public to Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

“Initial information indicates the former PCC exchanged a series of messages with the adult member of the public last month through social media.

“The IOPC oversees the police complaints system and investigates the most serious incidents and complaints involving the police. All our work is done independently of the police, government and interest groups.

“The IOPC oversight of PCCs is outlined in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 which states that we can only investigate the conduct of a PCC if there is an indication that a criminal offence may have been committed.

“Our investigation is in its early stages and we are in the process of gathering information.”

Conservative Mr Ablewhite was elected in 2016 having previously been leader of Huntingdonshire District Council.

As his resignation came less than six months before scheduled elections next May the police and crime panel will appoint an interim to fill the role before the public can vote on a permanent replacement.

It was also revealed yesterday that a letter sent by Dorothy Gregson, chief executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, to members of the police and crime panel had said the allegation against Mr Ablewhite had been assessed as being potentially criminal.

A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said: “This matter has been referred to the IOPC, therefore it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

Mr Ablewhite’s time in office saw him lead the takeover of the governance of the county’s fire and rescue service from the Fire Authority.

He also made headlines shortly before his election victory over private messages about travellers, where he made remarks about “pikeys” and “Spanish asylum seekers” found in an “inflatable grotto lorry”.

Mr Ablewhite said the remarks to friends were just “banter”, but he later agreed to write a written apology after being asked to do so by the police and crime panel.

The role of police and crime commissioner was introduced by the coalition government led by David Cameron, with the first elections being held in 2012.

Mr Ablewhite has yet to comment on his resignation despite being approached by the PT and other media.