THE DAVE and John show is now running Cheshire Constabulary and so far the top cop and his political master are getting on well.
Conservative John Dwyer was elected as the county’s new Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) last November in place of the abolished 17-member police authority.
Mr Dwyer has responsibility for setting the budget, developing strategies and liaising with the public, while Chief Constable David Whatton remains in charge of operational decisions.
There has been a lot of paper talk about the PCC's power to sack the Chief Constable if he does not perform, which both men joked about at a media briefing in the Winsford HQ.
"You feel a bit like a football chairman," said Commissioner Dwyer, who made clear his respect for the Chief, who he calls 'Dave', while insisting their relationship must remain 'professional but not cosy'.
“The relationship is working very well from my perspective," added Mr Dwyer, who is a retired Assistant Chief Constable with Cheshire Constabulary. "I've inherited, in many ways, one of best forces in the country."
Mr Whatton chipped in: “The working relationship is going really, really, well. It is different to the role of a police authority.
"I probably wouldn’t be sat in this room with a smile on my face talking about what we’re doing if we weren’t continuing to reduce crime and bringing the right people to justice, continuing to reduce issues of anti-social behaviour and managing the cuts we’re having to make across the board and not impacting, from my perspective, on the service we give to the public.”
But he cautioned: “I was being serious when I said if I don’t deliver, the relationship will change.”
Commissioner Dwyer is consulting the public over options on police spending but refuses to accept the coalition government's preference for a budget freeze which would attract a 1% increase in grant as a reward.
Mr Dwyer, whose election campaign was based on a non-political approach, says this would cause the funding gap to grow even greater than under his proposed 2% rise.
Commissioner Dwyer, who has also made clear he is not a fan of privatising police services, recalled telling the 200 party activists who chose him: "If you are looking for someone to toe the party line I am not your man, leave me alone. But they selected me so the grass roots level of the party indicate they are quite happy for it not to be a party political post and I intend making sure that I do what I think is best for the people of Cheshire.”
And Commissioner Dwyer is under no illusion he must raise the profile of his job to ensure the disappointing 13.7% turn-out at the PCC elections is not repeated next time.
"Whether they vote for me or not is another matter. They need to understand, because I don't think they did this time, how important this role is for everybody."
Commissioner Dwyer, 62, who lives with his wife Zena in Nantwich, says she is supportive despite the long hours his job entails.
“She actually said she’s seen a spark in me that’s been missing for a while, which is interesting isn’t it? I enjoyed doing the jobs I was doing, running my own businesses, but this is something else. This is really, really, interesting.”