Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner election spending investigation passed to prosecution service

PUBLISHED: 11:28 12 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:37 12 April 2017

Devon and Cornwall's new Police and Crime Commisioner Alison Hernandez

Devon and Cornwall's new Police and Crime Commisioner Alison Hernandez

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Crown Prosecution Service will decide whether to bring charges to Alison Hernandez, who will remain in office as PCC.

An investigation into Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Alison Hernandez’s 2015 general election spending has been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The Independent Police Complaints Commission, has confirmed it intends to pass the file to the CPS, after an investigation by West Mercia Police.

Ms Hernandez will remain in position as PCC while the CPS considers whether charges will be brought.

Andrew White, chief executive for the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, said there was no impediment to the commissioner carrying out her duties as the PCC, even if she is charged.

He said: “Although the case is being referred to the CPS, at this time, no decision has been made about whether charges will be laid against Ms Hernandez.

“There is no presumption that their consideration will lead to a charge and even if the CPS decide to charge it may be many months before any case comes to court.

“This referral does not prevent the commissioner from holding the position of PCC. If a charge is brought this remains the case – it would not prevent her from remaining in office,” he said.

“I am certain that some will see this as a significant stage in the investigation but in British justice an individual is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

“There is no charge, no trial and no verdict, and neither is there any impediment to the commissioner carrying out her duties as an elected representative of the people of Devon and Cornwall.”

West Mercia Police carried out the investigation to avoid any suggestion of bias from Devon and Cornwall Police.

Mr White said the people of Devon and Cornwall ‘should feel assured’ that Ms Hernandez is ‘fully meeting her obligations’ as PCC.

“In the last year, the Commissioner has published a comprehensive plan setting out her plans for the future of policing and community safety,” he said.

“She has made additional funds available to the Chief Constable to allow him to recruit an additional 100 front line police officers and recently announced a new initiative that will change the way first time offenders are treated by the criminal justice system.

“If you consider her achievements since being elected to office I believe it confirms my view that the commissioner is fully meeting her obligations to the people of Devon and Cornwall.

“They should feel assured that the good work of the commissioner and her team is proceeding regardless.”

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