WEST Mercia’s new Police and Crime Commissioner has defended appointing his Wyre Forest District Council colleague as his deputy.

John Campion’s selection of fellow Tory councillor Tracey Onslow as deputy commissioner was confirmed by West Mercia’s Police and Crime Panel.

But his choice drew criticism from the Wyre Forest Liberal Democrat group who said they were disappointed that he had appointed his district colleague.

Councillor Campion said Councillor Onslow had been appointed on merit, in a transparent selection process.

A shortlist of six candidates was interviewed by a panel that did not include Councillor Campion.

This narrowed the field to three candidates and the commissioner then carried out his own monitored interviews before making his final choice.

A spokesman for Wyre Forest Liberal Democrats said: “We are very disappointed to hear that John Campion has appointed Mrs Tracey Onslow, a Wyre Forest Conservative Councillor and activist, to be his Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.

“The West Mercia PCC represents the people who live in four local authority areas; Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Worcestershire.

“John Campion is a Wyre Forest DC and Worcestershire County Councillor. Tracey Onslow, is presently a Conservative Wyre Forest DC Councillor so we have a PCC and deputy PCC who are both from the Wyre Forest area of Worcestershire.

Mr Campion said: "I promised I would appoint a deputy in an open, transparent way that would stand up to scrutiny.

“That has been the case and is demonstrated by the backing I have received today from the panel, to whom I am grateful.

"Tracey has been appointed on merit and I believe she will make an excellent deputy who will really deliver for local communities.

Mrs Onslow said: "I am really looking forward to getting out and meeting people and working with John, the police, PCC partners and of course our local communities, to deliver a more secure, reformed and reassured West Mercia."

The new Deputy PCC role will see a £10,000 saving per year compared to the previous arrangement.