Cleveland police and crime chief Steve Turner faces 'sexual assault claim'

  • Published
Steve TurnerImage source, Stuart Boulton
Image caption,
Steve Turner was elected as Cleveland's PCC in May

Cleveland's police and crime commissioner is being investigated over a historical sexual assault claim, the police watchdog has confirmed.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it began a "managed investigation" into Conservative Steve Turner after a referral from the Cleveland Police and Crime Panel.

The matter will be investigated by another force.

Mr Turner said he was "appalled" by the allegation but "will cooperate fully" .

Mr Turner, who was elected in May, said in a statement: "I am appalled at the allegation and the connotations around it.

"That said, I genuinely believe that it is right and proper that all allegations are taken seriously and that an independent investigation takes place.

"Due to my role within Cleveland it is inappropriate for me to comment further and appropriate for this investigation to be carried out by an independent police force once appointed.

"I will cooperate fully, as will my office."

Mr Turner's office said there were "no plans for the suspension or resignation of the Police And Crime Commissioner at the moment".

The claim - first reported in the Mirror - is said to refer to an incident alleged to have happened in the 1980s.

No arrests have been made.

Cleveland's Police and Crime Panel held an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday, but the media and public were barred from attending due to "information" about an "individual". It is not known what the matter referred to.

Image caption,
Mr Turner's elected role oversees the running of Cleveland Police

The IOPC is responsible for overseeing complaints made about police forces.

"Any allegation that a criminal offence may have been committed by a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) must be referred by the appropriate authority to the IOPC to determine whether the matter should be investigated," a spokesperson said.

"We have now begun a managed investigation following a complaint referral from the Cleveland Police and Crime Panel regarding the alleged conduct of the current PCC prior to taking up the role.

"This investigation, which follows an allegation of a serious non-recent criminal offence, will be carried out by a force from another area under our direction and control.

"We have contacted the complainant to make them aware of our involvement. As this investigation is at a very early stage, it would not be appropriate to comment further."

'Assist with inquiries'

A spokesperson for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner said: "We have been made aware that a referral has been made to Cleveland Police and Crime Panel relating to a non-recent allegation against Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner.

"We extend our full co-operation to the panel and the IOPC and we will assist them with any inquiries they need to make."

It added that as there was an ongoing investigation, it would not be appropriate to comment further.

A separate matter was previously referred to the police watchdog concerning Mr Turner receiving a police caution in the 1990s for theft while working as a supermarket manager, in a role from which he "voluntarily" resigned.

He previously wrote on social media about what had happened, describing it as a "stupid error" and saying it had been a "minor incident".

Mr Turner also insisted he had "diligently followed all the rules" governing the appointment of police and crime commissioners.

Labour's Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald said the IOPC was the most appropriate body to investigate.

"It's now important that they are able to carry out that investigation without prejudice. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage."

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