Sunday 3 November 2013

Police & Crime Commissioners: Rabbits In The Headlights

  • an ‘In My View’ Special Report by NIGEL WARD, examining the impact of Police & Crime Commissioners as they approach the first anniversary of their respective elections.  

Before reporting on my brief (but illuminating) encounter with North Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner Julia MULLIGAN [Con] at her ‘Time to Talk’ public relations exercise, held at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre (SJT) on Wednesday 23rd October 2013, 6:00pm to 8:00pm, let me take a moment to stake out a context in which our dialogue can best be clearly appreciated.
Police & Crime Commissioners have not met with universal approval since their respective elections on 15th November 2012. Not that the passing of their fore-runners, the regional Police Authorities, has been lamented – especially here in North Yorkshire, where financial profligacy and incompetent resource management became the hallmarks of the North Yorkshire Police Authority throughout the last ten years of its existence, under the highly dubious Chairship of JaneKENYON [Con], aided and abetted by Vice-Chair County Councillor Carl LES [Con].


Elsewhere in the north of England, the new Police & Crime Commissioners have been taking a metaphorical thrashing – richly deserved – on account of various criminal practices. It is not well received by the public when those at the apex of the law and order pyramid are shown to be petty thieves.
Take, for example, Lancashire Police & Crime Commissioner Clive GRUNSHAW, who presently stands accused of double-claiming his Mileage Expenses (from two separate authorities). The Crown Prosecution Service is evaluating the case for prosecution and Clive GRUNSHAW [Lab] is presently under considerable pressure to stand down until the case is resolved. So he should.
Curiously, Clive GRUNSHAW’s modus operandi appears to be indistinguishable from that of County Councillor Carl LES – presently Chair of the North Yorkshire Police & Crime Panel – whose case has been kept well away from the North Yorkshire Police and is being investigated ‘internally’ by auditors Veritau Ltd (owned by NYCC – with Carl LES himself on the Board of Directors).
Further north, Cumbria Police & Crime Commissioner Richard RHODES [Con] is also in trouble, having been ‘grassed up’ by a member of his own staff, also for taking liberties with his Travel Expenses. The propensity to ‘milk’ the expenses system seems to be viewed as a ‘par for the course’ perk in the highest echelons of Police management.

Nearer to home, the Durham Police & Crime Commissioner Ron HOGG [Lab] is under investigation for allegedly claiming benefits to which he was not entitled, having been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) by the Durham Police and Crime Panel after members received information from Officers working on Operation Sacristy, an ongoing criminal investigation into individuals with past and present associations with the Cleveland Police Authority.
(And speaking of the Cleveland Police Authority, readers will recall the demise and imprisonment of former Chair Dave McLUKIE for perverting the course of justice. This followed the sacking of the then Chief Constable Sean PRICE and his Deputy CC Derek BONNARD for corrupt procurement procedures., covered by me here on Real Whitby on 16th April 2012 – and still playing out as I write.)
Thus far, North Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner Julia MULLIGAN [Con] has escaped serious criticism, having been criticised only for a little financial profligacy (ten grand for a new ‘brand’ – and it is truly dreadful) and her indecisiveness in discharging her principle duty – appointing a Chief Constable.

As I arrived (a few minutes late) for Julia MULLIGAN’s ‘Time to Talk’ gig at the SJT, she was parrying the slings and arrows of some disaffected Barrowcliff residents who were less than complimentary about the ‘success’ of the ‘Dial 101’ initiative. According to the people from Barrowcliff, it is utterly useless.
A very articulate lady told a harrowing story of the way she had been stone-walled for nearly a year by the North Yorkshire Police over a Formal Complaint against a WPC who had made false accusations against her 87-year-old critically ill father. An old-school gentleman after my own heart, he had risen from his seat to greet the WPC and shake her hand – only to be falsely accused by her of ‘touching her inappropriately’. When the lady protested, she was told to shut her mouth.
To her credit, Julia MULLIGAN [Con] was very candid in her criticism of the Professional Standards Directorate of the North Yorkshire Police, headed by Steve READ, whose handling even of very serious Formal Complaints against ranking North Yorkshire Police Officers has been superficial at best, and extraordinarily protracted over many months – sometimes, years.
She said:
“The Police Complaints system is extremely complicated. It is not focussed around victims and it is extremely difficult. Members of the public need help with it . . . it is just a huge, massive, bureaucratic, slow process.”
No bull, Sherlock! Like the ‘101’ initiative, the Police Complaints system is also utterly useless – as far as complainants are concerned. As a cover-up mechanism designed to protect the guilty, it works very well. But that is a national malaise.
Julia MULLIGAN was clearly relieved to have that embarrassment behind, so I took my opportunity to have a few words. The issues that I hoped (but did not expect) Julia MULLIGAN would evince the integrity to address included:
  • The failure of North Yorkshire Police to diligently investigate crimes of company theft, fraud and forgery in the Dales Timber Ltd allegations, implicating Councillor T.W. ‘Bill’ MILLER and his partner Councillor Jane KENYON (former Chair of the erstwhile North Yorkshire Police Authority).
  • The refusal by North Yorkshire Police to investigate prima facie evidence that County Councillor Carl LES double-claimed his Mileage Expenses on numerous occasions. County Councillor Carl LES is presently the Chair of the North Yorkshire Police & Crime Panel (to whom complaints against Commissioner Julia MULLIGAN must be addressed) and former Vice-Chair of the erstwhile North Yorkshire Police Authority.
  • The refusal by North Yorkshire Police to process investigative-journalist Tim HICKS’ allegations of abuse of office against Detective Inspector Heather Pearson and Councillor Jane KENYON, at a time when she (KENYON) was Chair of the North Yorkshire Police Authority.
  • The failure of the North Yorkshire Police to investigate burglary, fraud and institutional harassment in the Barbara Hofschr√∂er case, and the failure of the North Yorkshire Police to accede to an appeal by Lord Maginnis of DRUMGLASS to convene a Safeguarding Conference with York City Council to secure the safe return of 84-year-old invalid Barbara Hofschr√∂er and her carer, from exile in Austria to their home in York.
Readers may wish to read a transcript of my exchange with Julia MULLIGAN, here.
It must be said, however, that the bare text tells nothing of the true tenor of the exchange.
Only by listening to a recording, provided to me by a member of the public, does one gain a clear impression of just how evasive and thoroughly shifty Julia MULLIGAN can be when confronted with issues that she has obviously studied very closely – whilst denying having read numerous emails sent to her by me over the past year, marked in the ‘Subject’ line *** STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL *** [For the eyes of the PCC ONLY, and NO OTHER RECIPIENT] and “IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST”. I guess no-one in her office noticed that.
Readers of Real Whitby may wish to form an independent and unbiased opinion by listening to the audio recording, here.
In my view, it is deeply hypocritical of Julia MULLIGAN to have disregarded my emails, especially on such vitally important matters of integrity and transparency, in the public interest. All I have ever received, even  in the way of acknowledgement, have been three Auto-Response emails, informing me:

Julia MULLIGAN claims, on her web-site, that her remit comprises:
  • Finding out what you think about policing and crime
  • Making sure you are listened to and heard
  • Championing your needs with the police, community safety partners and government
  • Writing a Police and Crime Plan that reflects your priorities
  • Publishing an annual report that tells you if we are delivering the plan
  • Ensuring the police deliver an efficient and effective service
  • Holding the Chief Constable to account
  • Deciding the police budget and how much council tax is charged for policing
  • Monitoring the police budget and ensuring it is spent efficiently
  • Appointing and dismissing the Chief Constable (if needed)
To facilitate her aspirations, she would do well to read a couple of my recent articles:
Immediately thereafter, she may wish to review her own Oath of Office (I have underlined a few passages that should engage her attention):
“I, Julia MULLIGAN, do solemnly and sincerely promise that I will serve all the people ofNorth Yorkshire in the office of Police and Crime Commissioner without fear or favour.
I will act with integrity and diligence in my role and, to the best of my ability, will execute the duties of my office to ensure that the police are able to cut crime and protect the public.
I will give a voice to the publicespecially victims of crime and work with other services to ensure the safety of the community and effective criminal justice.
I will take all steps within my power to ensure transparency of my decisions, so that I may be properly held to account by the public.
I will not seek to influence or prevent any lawful and reasonable investigation or arrest, nor encourage any police action save that which is lawful and justified within the bounds of this office.”
Readers are invited to glean such instances as they can of Julia MULLIGAN upholding her Oath (‘without fear or favour’‘act with integrity and diligence’‘execute the duties of my office’‘ensure transparency’ and ‘not seek to influence or prevent’ ) in her dialogue with me. Listen to the ausio; the air is thick with fear and favour.
Perhaps a Formal Complaint is in order. But Formal Complaints against the North Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner must be lodged with the North Yorkshire Police & Crime Panel, the body of which County Councillor Carl LES is the Chair. Since Julia MULLIGAN refuses to hear a Formal Complaint against County Councillor Carl LES, it is difficult to believe that Carl LES will hear a Formal Complaint against Julia MULLIGAN. Thus are the wagons drawn into avery tight circle, protected – in her words – by “just a huge, massive, bureaucratic, slow process”.
No bull, Sherlock!
Mr Ian ANDERSON, predecessor to Lisa DIXON in the position of Head of Legal at SBC, once said to me, “It’s clear what you don’t want, Nigel. What is it that you do want?”
I want good local government. And I want good policing. The first step to ‘good’ is honest. I can accept a little dishonesty amongst members of the public, amongst double-glazing salesmen, tradesmen and used-car dealers; such is human nature. Caveat emptor – one is taught to be cautious.
But I cannot accept dishonesty in public servants. That is not a matter of human nature; it is a matter of design – premeditated collusion in a scurrilous betrayal of the public trust.
I want an end to it.
Meanwhile, I am waiting for an explanation as to why Julia MULLIGAN and her cohorts are so hostile to that purpose.
And (of course) I am still waiting for Julia MULLIGAN to make good on that thrice-stated commitment to meeting me. This article will be her excuse not to do so.
Only one out of every fourteen electors of North Yorkshire voted for Julia MULLIGAN.


1 comment:

  1. Impossible not to find this situation depressing, does anybody have any faith left in any institution?
    Certainly, no-one I know.


Thanks for your time and interest