THE police and crime commissioner of Cleveland has been criticised following the latest development at the force.

Earlier this week The Northern Echo revealed how Cristiana Emsley, the force’s first non-warranted director of its standards and ethics department, had been suspended while an investigation into her conduct was carried out.

Now politicians from across the force area, led by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, have joined together demanding to know why they had been unaware of the unfolding situation at the force this week.

A hard-hitting letter, signed by seven politicians, has been delivered to PCC Barry Coppinger, pictured, in the wake of the latest development at the force.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Houchen, pictured, wrote: "No organisation is perfect but the frequency with which major scandals have rocked Cleveland Police under your tenure points towards a failure of leadership.

The Northern Echo:

"Our new Chief Constable Richard Lewis has already made great progress in addressing this and challenging the vested interests which oppose change.

"When the old Professional Standards team was abolished and replaced by Standards and Ethics it seemed like things had moved in the right direction. As a department that seemed to be at the centre of almost all of the force’s problems it was a welcome move, but recent revelations suggest this was nothing more than superficial window-dressing that has failed to address the root cause of the problems within the force."

Ms Emsley, pictured below, was drafted in by Cleveland Police after it disbanded its discredited professional standards department following a number of scandals, including the unlawful use of ‘snooping’ legislation to access mobile phone data of two Northern Echo reporters.

The Northern Echo:

The mayor, along with Middlesbrough South MP Simon Clarke, Redcar MP Jacob Young, Stockton South MP Matt Vickers and Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston, the leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council, Cllr Mary Lanigan and Hartlepool Council leader, Cllr Shane Moore, are calling for information about the suspension.

The investigation, which is not criminal at this stage, will be conducted by Cleveland Police at this time, but not by staff within the Directorate of Standards and Ethics (DSE).

Mr Houchen added: "Your unwillingness to share information and be open about the dire circumstances surround this issue is worrying. The integrity of the department, and the very person, trusted to keep our police honest has been called into question, a situation that undermines almost every principle of policing by consent and the notion that our police are members of the communities they serve."

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has been made aware of the ongoing investigation but is presently not involved.