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Police and Crime Panel offers unanimous support for the Commissioner’s new Chief of Staff candidate

13 December 2023

Hampshire & Isle of Wight’s Police and Crime Panel has affirmed unanimous support for the Police and Crime Commissioner Donna Jones’ next Chief of Staff appointment.

Kate Gunson will take up the role supporting the Commissioner in January 2024 following a confirmation hearing last week (December 7).

Kate will replace Jase Kenny, who retires at the end of December after two years as Chief Executive.

PCC Donna Jones said “I’m delighted that Kate will take up the role as Chief of Staff at the OPCC in the New Year. Kate‘s extensive policing career and her experience of criminal justice, commissioning and vital partnership work will be a fantastic asset to the office and of great support to me as Commissioner in the execution of my duties.

“I’d like to place on record, my thanks to Jase Kenny for the unstinting support he has given me as Police and Crime Commissioner since May 2021; first as my staff officer, and then more recently as the Chief Executive of the OPCC. The organisation has gone through a significant period of change, and I couldn’t have delivered those changes and improvements without his incredible support.

“I’m now very much looking forward to working closely with Kate and have no doubt her organisational knowledge and acumen will enable me to ensure I provide effective support and oversight to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary.”

Before joining the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) in 2022 as Head of Criminal Justice, Commissioning and Partnerships, Kate served as a police officer for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary for 27 years. Armed with a degree in Social Policy and Administration, Kate became a career detective and worked her way through the ranks to Detective Chief Inspector (DCI). In that time she worked across all areas of crime investigation including child abuse and organised crime. She also led the force negotiator team and was a homicide and kidnap accredited senior investigating officer. She led several homicide investigations and a successful gross negligence manslaughter case.

Kate also worked as a DCI heading up the criminal justice branch of the force and implemented a COVID recovery strategy to successfully reduce court backlogs created by the pandemic. Her career change in 2022 means she already has excellent experience supporting the Commissioner with the delivery of the Police and Crime Plan.

Kate Gunson said: “I am very much looking forward to taking on the Chief of Staff role to continue to lead the excellent work of the OPCC team in delivering the Commissioner’s priorities for the public, and ensuring Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary are an outstanding police force.”

Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) must have a Chief Executive or Chief of Staff, and in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, the post-holder also acts as the Monitoring Officer. Both aspects of the role are set out in statute.

The Chief of Staff has a very wide remit but main duties are centred on working with the Commissioner to enable the delivery of the Commissioner’s vision and priorities, supporting the Commissioner with statutory responsibilities, managing key stakeholder relationships, overseeing financial management, and converting the political manifesto into a Police and Crime Plan.

The post was subject to approval by the Police and Crime Panel.

Following the hearing on December 7, Chairman of Hampshire Police and Crime Panel, Councillor Seán Woodward said: “The Panel has agreed that Kate Gunson is an excellent candidate for this position. Her answers to questions posed by the Panel have demonstrated that she is very suitable for the role. The Commissioner will have a new Chief of Staff of very high calibre.”