August election likely after death of ‘police champion’ Bob Jones
TRIBUTES have poured in from all sides of the political spectrum in the wake of the sudden death of regional crime boss Bob Jones – a “great champion” of British policing.
The “huge loss” of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner in his sleep came in an announcement from deputy, Yvonne Mosquito, on Tuesday morning.
And immediately the premature passing of the 59-year-old former West Midlands police authority chairman triggered the likelihood of a by-election within 35 days for a job he thought should be abolished.
The Labour stalwart from Wolverhampton, elected as the first police and crime commissioner for the WM region in November 2012, had courted controversy by calling for PCCs to scrapped in an article in the Guardian newspaper last September.
I shall remember Bob as a man who spoke his mind. Once he had committed himself to an issue, there was no shaking his faith in that viewpoint”
I liked him for that – as a man of principle.
STAFFORDSHIRE DEPUTY PCC SUE ARNOLD
Matthew Ellis, the county’s Tory crime boss elected at the same time as Mr Jones, was due to hold a conference call with the West Midlands PCC on the morning he died.
He admitted that Mr Jones had succeeded in “fundamentally changing and improving the way the police engaged with local people.
Mr Ellis added: “Although we didn’t share the same philosophies, I liked Bob very much as a person and will miss the banter we had on so many occasions.
“He was never afraid to speak his mind, even if this sometimes caused him to be in a minority of one among PCCs.”
Mr Jones’s deputy Yvonne Mosquito echoed the sentiments of all who came into contact with the man who served as a Labour councillor in Wolverhampton for 33 years and received a CBE for his public services in 2010.
“Bob was a dear friend and a deeply committed public servant,” she said.
“All our thoughts are with Bob’s wife Sarah and his family at this sad time.”
Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, also paid tribute to Mr Jones. “Bob was a very kind and intelligent man who cared deeply about the communities he represented,” she said.
“He served with great distinction as police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands, and before that leading West Midlands police authority, always championing neighbourhood policing and victims’ rights.
“I have benefited from his advice and wisdom over the years and he was rightly awarded a CBE last year.”
Wolverhampton City Council leader Roger Lawrence said Mr Jones “was a great public servant to Wolverhampton”.
“He will be greatly missed,” he said. Flags outside Wolverhampton Civic Centre were flown at half-mast as a mark of respect.
Erdington Labour MP Jack Dromey tweeted: “Deeply saddened to hear the death of West Midlands PCC, Bob Jones, a great champion of all that is best in British policing and a very decent man.”
Mr Jones, one-time Labour chairman of the Association of Police Authorities from 2005-09, was strategy director for the Campaign for Real Ale.