NEWLY re-elected police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez has said she will prioritise the ‘limbo’ situation that Devon and Cornwall Police is stuck in due to its suspended chief constable Will Kerr.

Ms Hernandez, who has just secured her third consecutive term, said she wanted to resolve the issue as a matter of urgency.

She said: ‘The priority for me will be sorting out the chief constable to create a substantive chief constable to lead the force.

'We’re not in a healthy situation, we’re in limbo and you need a chief constable there who understands that they are fully responsible for that performance.

‘About 90 per cent of the decisions a chief constable will make are operational and will have absolutely nothing to do with me, and so I need make sure they are competent and really driving that performance.

‘That’s the one priority I have to sort out this year regardless of what happens with the investigation.’

Investigations into the conduct of Mr Kerr have ground to a halt – nine months after he was suspended on full pay from his £170,000 a year job.

He was suspended from Devon and Cornwall Police over misconduct allegations in July. 

These are being dealt with by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which ‘temporarily suspended’ its probe last month pending the criminal investigation being carried out by the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland.

Last summer it was revealed a criminal investigation had been launched into sexual assault allegations against the chief constable, a former assistant chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Mr Kerr strenuously denies the allegations and says he will co-operate with any investigation.

The suspension means Devon and Cornwall Police has been paying for two chief constables.

While Mr Kerr is suspended on full pay, the force is also paying acting chief constable Jim Colwell to step up in his absence.

Elsewhere, Ms Hernandez said she wanted in her third term to focus on the visibility of police officers, and the drug and alcohol addiction blighting the area.