Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner said she remains committed to catching speeding motorists despite being caught five times herself.
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.
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.
On Monday she appeared at her first formal public meeting since her court appearance.
The Police and Crime Panel at County Hall on Monday, June 6, is set up to support and challenge Mrs Henry about the decisions she makes.
It is made up of both councillors and independent members.
A report to the panel published before the before the meeting 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.
The IOPC will therefore not be investigating the matter.
The chair of Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Panel, Christine Goldstraw, who served as a magistrate for 10 years, said she believed the only way Mrs Henry could leave office is by being voted out, unless she chose to stand down.
Councillors and independent members at the Police and Crime Panel meeting were advised not to challenge Mrs Henry until the court case had concluded.
However, Mrs Henry said she wanted to address the room.
She said: “I think it is only right to publicly acknowledge the court case in which I am involved as a private citizen.
“Given that some of the information is already in the public domain, unfortunately because this matter has not been formally concluded at court I cannot discuss it or take questions on the matter.
“I have to avoid any possible interference in the judicial outcome of the case, which will be concluded in approximately six weeks time.
“What I am able to do however is restate the apology.
“I am very ashamed, embarrassed and sorry and I remain passionate about fulfilling the responsibility expected of me as Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire.”
Later in the meeting, she was asked by Cllr Michael Edwards (Lab), ward councillor for the Meadows at Nottingham City Council, about her commitment to speeding.
He said: “We have been on it for years in Nottingham city and done some controversial things. The car driving public do not appreciate what we do but we have got the city down to a 20mph speed limit.
“Some of it is not instantly popular – but we know we have got to get speeding down and do more – including catching people and prosecuting people for speeding.”
Mrs Henry responded: “There is about 100,000 people in Nottinghamshire each year that break the speed limit and out of those 40,000 are entitled to a speeding awareness course.
“As part of the next round of my community grants there will be an opportunity for people to bid in to do community speedwatch. I am absolutely committed to doing this.”
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 further until the case is concluded in July.