Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner is unlikely to be forced to leave her role despite admitting speeding five times, according to the chair of a panel which oversees her performance.
Conservative Caroline Henry was elected as crime commissioner in May 2021 and is responsible for holding Nottinghamshire Police to account and overseeing the force’s spending.
She appeared at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, May 3, after committing five speeding offences from March to June 2021.
Mrs Henry, 51, of Giltbrook, pleaded guilty to all five offences. The case will be heard and sentenced by a district judge in July.
She could face 15 points added to her licence, which can result in a ban from driving of a minimum of six months.
The case led critics to call for her to resign from the £76,500-a-year job, and some also questioned whether she could be removed from office because she had pleaded guilty to a crime.
But the independent chair of Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Panel, Christine Goldstraw, who served as a magistrate for 10 years, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service she believed the only way Mrs Henry could leave office is by being voted out, unless she chose to stand down.
“She was elected on her manifesto and that is the only way (she would be removed) unless she decided herself that her position was untenable,” Ms Goldstraw said.
“Until the closing of legal proceedings it is difficult to forecast what the outcome would be. The only way (to remove Mrs Henry) is through the ballot box at the next election.”
Following the court case there have been public calls for the commissioner to resign and criticism by Labour’s Nottingham South MP, Lilian Greenwood, in the House of Commons.
Mrs Henry has consistently said she will not comment until the case is concluded in July.
But she told the court she was “embarrassed and ashamed” about what had happened.
Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Panel is made up of councillors and independent members designed to support and challenge Mrs Henry.
In a report to the panel for a June 6 panel meeting, it says 12 complaints about the commissioner were received in response to media reports following her court appearance.
It states the panel does not need to record a conduct matter if it “has been, or is already being, dealt with by means of criminal proceedings against the person to whose conduct the matter relates”.
Once court proceedings are concluded on July 19, the matter remains “outside the scope” of the panel’s arrangements for dealing with complaints and conduct matters.
Conduct matters and serious complaints are therefore to be referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
This includes Police and Crime Commissioner actions where there is an indication of criminal wrongdoing. However, there’s an exclusion if already subject to criminal proceedings.
A spokesman for the IOPC said: “We were made aware of these offences concerning the current Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire but as criminal proceedings had already started the matter was not referable. As such, we will not be investigating the matter.”
The Home Office, which supports police and crime commissioners, said it is unable to comment as the case is ongoing.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service tried to contact Mrs Henry for a comment, but she was unavailable.