Tributes paid to police boss Jones

Hillingdon Times: Bob Jones was the first police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands Bob Jones was the first police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands

Tributes have been paid to the dedication and public-spiritedness of a police and crime commissioner who has died suddenly.

Colleagues and friends of Labour's Bob Jones, including shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, spoke of their shock and sadness at his death aged 59.

Mr Jones, who served as a councillor in his home city of Wolverhampton for more than 30 years, was elected as the first police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands in November 2012.

In a statement offering her sympathies to Mr Jones' family, Ms Cooper said: "This is very sad news and comes as a terrible shock to us all.

"Bob was a very kind and intelligent man who cared deeply about the communities he represented. He served with great distinction as police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands, and before that leading West Midlands Police Authority, always championing neighbourhood policing and victims' rights.

"I have benefited from his advice and wisdom over the years and he was rightly awarded a CBE last year."

Roger Lawrence, the leader of Wolverhampton City Council, described Mr Jones as a great public servant who had represented the city as a committed ward councillor for over 30 years.

"He held numerous positions on the council and was a long-standing member of the Police Authority, chairman of the Association of Police Authorities, and most recently was elected police and crime commissioner, a role he was making his own," Mr Lawrence said.

Mr Jones never lived more than a mile from where he was born except when studying for a degree in public administration in Nottingham.

During his time as a councillor between 1980 and 2013, the commissioner took up a variety of senior roles, including cabinet member for leisure and community safety.

He was also a member of the West Midlands Police Authority from 1986 to 2012, and chaired the authority from 1995-2000.

Last month Mr Jones stepped into the row over the so-called Trojan Horse schools takeover plot by calling on Education Secretary Michael Gove to explain his department's apparent inaction over the allegations.

He also questioned whether Mr Gove would have reacted in the same way if he were made aware of allegations of "socially conservative" Christians, Jews, or Sikhs seeking influence in schools.

Staffordshire's Conservative police and crime commissioner Matthew Ellis also offered his sympathies to Mr Jones' family, friends and colleagues.

"Although we didn't share the same philosophies, I liked Bob very much as a person and will miss the banter we had on so many occasions," Mr Ellis said.

"He was never afraid to speak his mind, even if this sometimes caused him to be in a minority of one among PCCs.

"The critical area where Bob made a significant difference in the last 18 months was in fundamentally changing and improving the way the police engaged with local people."

West Midlands deputy police and crime commissioner Yvonne Mosquito said in a statement: "This is a huge loss to the West Midlands and to policing. Bob was a dear friend and a deeply committed public servant. All our thoughts are with Bob's wife Sarah and his family at this sad time."

Shadow policing minister Jack Dromey, the MP for Birmingham Erdington, said: "I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of West Midlands PCC Bob Jones.

"Bob was a great champion of all that is best in British policing and a thoroughly decent man.

"I had the honour to launch his campaign for election to the post of PCC and I worked closely with him as he stood up in tough times for Neighbourhood Policing.

"Kind, gentle, always courteous, he will remembered with great affection as a man who made a real difference."

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