By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
An “exceptional” police chief will stay in his job until 2025.
Kent Police’s chief constable, Alan Pughsley has been granted a three year extension in his coveted role as the head of the county force. His original contract was due to expire in 16 months’ time.
Mr Pughsley has been in his post since 2014 and overseen a period of “challenging” financial savings – with Kent Police needing to slash £9million from their budget this year – and has been applauded for “modernising” the force.
His colleague, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott, who authorised the job extension, has described the local chief constable as an “exceptional leader”.
In a dossier published to the Kent Police and Crime Panel yesterday, Mr Scott said: “Kent Police is embarking upon one of the most significant organisational and workforce change ‘Operation Zenith’.
“As this is instructed by Mr Pughsley, the Commissioner sees the retention of this chief constable as critical to the successful delivery of this, ensuring consistency and accountability.”
The lengthy extension has been justified by Mr Scott as necessary to ensure “long term clarity of leadership” and stability amid the Covid crisis and Brexit fallout over the coming months.
During his time as chief constable, Mr Pughsley steadily increased taser availability to officers facing aggression and violence and he was “firmly of the view that it is now the right thing to do”.
Up to 1,500 officers opted into the scheme which was rolled out en mass last year due to a large rise in knife crime.
Amid the pandemic, Mr Pughsley has overseen a challenging time of imposing lockdown rules, fining people for failing and to socially distance and dispersing mass party gatherings.
Inspectors from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary recently said that Kent Police has progressed from a “good” to “outstanding” force during the tenure of the former Metropolitan police officer.
According to Kent Police records published last year, Mr Pughsley was paid around £208,000.
Explaining the job extension, Mr Scott’s report says: “Precedent was set in June 2018 by Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire when he provided ‘five one-year extensions’ to chief constable Simon Cole.
“Legal advice received by their solicitors and further supported by our own advice confirms the provision of multiple ‘one-year’ extensions was legitimate.”
The decision by Mr Scott will be discussed by councillors at the first virtual Kent and Police Crime Panel next Tuesday (Sep 8) from 10am.