Politically Affiliated PCCs – A Great Idea (Or Not)

Much has been said about PCCs in general, and by a certain section of the population, about politically affiliated PCCs.  Opinion is divided about PCCs, do we need them? Are they Value For Money? Well something has to take the place of the now-defunct Police Authorities but the fact that many PCCs are firmly affiliated to Political Parties causes me, and many others, grave concerns.  My last post concerned one such PCC, and so will this one.

The latest PCC story to come across my desk at Angry Towers, involves the North Yorkshire PCC,  Julia Mulligan, and her Deputy, Mr Will Naylor. Mrs Mulligan was re-elected last year, and Mr Naylor was previously her Chief of Staff. Prior to becoming PCC Mrs Mulligan has stood for Parliament, been a District Councillor and now represents the Conservative party as PCC.  It may be fair to call her a Politician.

Personally I firmly believe that Party Politics has no rôle in any aspect of Policing but we are saddled with the system that Theresa May, as Home Secretary, has blessed us with.

In 2016 North Yorkshire District Council decided to approve the practice commonly known as ‘Fracking’ in Ryedale.  Many people were opposed to this for a variety of reasons, not least for the impact this may have on North Yorkshire Police’s budget.  In response Mrs Mulligan had this to say to calm the fears of the tax-payers of North Yorkshire:-

“There is a positive duty on North Yorkshire Police to facilitate lawful and peaceful protests, with fracking being absolutely no different, and I do not expect any resourcing issues as a result of the County Council’s decision. North Yorkshire Police has the necessary contingencies and budgets in place to ensure the force is well able to deal with such events in the calm and professional manner you would expect, ensuring any impact on local residents is kept to a minimum.

“Above and beyond our usual budgeting there are also reserves earmarked for any unplanned Major Incidents, as well as a general reserve which is there for any eventuality. I firmly believe however that any lawful and peaceful protest will be facilitated by the police as usual, keeping costs to a minimum. In the worst case, there is the option to apply to the Home Office for financial support should the costs exceed 1.0% of North Yorkshire Police’s budget, or about £1.5m, but I believe that is highly unlikely to happen.”

Pretty confident speaking there then. No worries about resources or budgets then:- “North Yorkshire Police has the necessary contingencies and budgets in place to ensure the force is well able to deal with such events” No ambiguity there then.

Nearly 18 months later I asked North Yorkshire Police, under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, what is the total cost to North Yorkshire this Financial Year of the Fracking activities in Ryedale (Operation Kingfisher) – REFUSED.

I also asked how many Police Rest Days had bern cancelled in respect of Operation Kingfisher – REFUSED.

I asked what level (if any) of Mutual Aid was being ceployed to assist Operation Kingfisher – REFUSED.

Other seekers-of-truth who have made similar requests have received similar responses.  This leads me to think “Do North Yorkshire really have sufficient resources to cope with the anti-Fracking demonstrations?”  “Why are North Yorkshire Police so reluctant to be transparent?”

Even North Yorkshire Police must have to publish some accounts eventually, but the public, presumably, want to know some headline figures before then.  Why should they have to wait? Why is North Yorkshire Police refusing to release the information?

Anti-Fracking demonstrations have the potential to become Theresa May’s Miners’ Strike, and I rather fancy that she relishes that prospect.  Police Forces need to be open and transparent about such large-scale Public Order commitments, and the budgetary implications.  Every Police Officer involved in Operation Kingfisher is a Police Officer not protecting his/her public, regardless of which Force they are from.

Finally, before I move on to Mrs Mulligan’s Deputy it might be worth noting that during her first term as PCC  the Police and  rime Panel received 16 complaints about the conduct of Mrs Mulligan.  All 16 were either resolved informally or deemed worthy of No Further Action.  In her 2nd (current) term in office the Police and Crime Panel have received 3 complaints about the conduct of Mrs Mulligan.  All 3 have been resolved informally or deemed worthy of  No Further Action.

Moving on to Will Naylor, one of his responsibilities as Mrs Mulligan’s Deputy is

  • Delivering her manifesto, in particular reforming the police complaints system in line with the opportunities set out in the new policing and crime bill and overseeing improvements to non-emergency contact with the police (the ‘101’ contact system)

In a 9 month period last year over 30,000 calls to North Yorkshire Police’s 101 system were abandoned, unanswered.  That is not a good statistic for anyone to have, hence Will Naylor was tasked to sort it out.

Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said every effort was being made to improve the 101 service with more staff and IT improvements.  That sounds like more expenditure to me. As if the Force doesn’t have enough to pay out for at the moment.

In July of this year NYP’s 101 system was described as “shoddy and unreliable” after callers were left hanging on for 30 minutes or more.

By August this year the situation had “improved” so much that the Force found it necessary to ask the public not to contact them via the 101 system due to “technical issues”.

Eventually, just this week, the Vice Chair of the Police and Crime Panel had this to say to the PCC

“Having been vice chair of the Police and Crime Panel for over two years I have been dismayed not to see any tangible improvement in the 101 service – and in fact an apparent decline in the service residents are receiving. Despite the hard work of dedicated staff, which I saw first-hand on my recent visit to the Control Room in York, we still hear reports of long delays to report crime and anti-social behaviour via the 101 numbe

The lack of police visibility on the streets and the difficult in getting a response via telephone is a real concern for residents. To take one of many recent examples I was astonished to learn that the clerk of Haxby Town Council has not had a reply to his email of September 11, where he outlines his own problems using the 101 number.”

A Freedom of Information request by another truth-seeker reveals that, despite Mr Naylor having been tasked to sort it out, the 101 Service for North Yorkshire Police was actually getting  WORSE. The response reveals that up to 7,000 calls to 101 per month were being abandoned unanswered.

So, returning to the beginning, what on earth is going on in North Yorkshire?  It seems to me, and it is only my personal opinion, that we have a PCC who assured the public that North Yorkshire Police had ample resources to deal with thevanti-Fracking demonstrations and not to worry. 18 months later it is proving impossible to get any information out of NYP about costs and resources relating to Operation Kingfisher. WHY?  What, if anything, do they have to hide? The info must be published eventually, what are they hoping to achieve by refusing to disclose it? Is the Tory PCC metely pandering to her paymaster?  Would a truly Independent PCC have allowed these refusals?

I have no idea what the substance of the 19 complaints recorded against the PCC are, but I would have thought that 19 is a larger-than-average  umber.  The Police and Crime Panel seem to have published no reports into any of them.

There are NO complaints recorded against the Deputy PCC.

As for 101, the system is truly in a shambles and the Deputy PCC tasked to sort it out seems to have achieved little more than preside over an increase in abandoned, unanswered, calls. A salary of £45,000 p.a. and he has achieved what exactly? Not much that I can see.

We may be saddled with Police and Crime Commissioners but I can’t help thinking that we’d all be better off if they were free from political influences.  There is no place in Policing for Party Politics, and that includes the PCC.

Is This A Strange Way To Record Accounts/Expenses?

During the run-up to the recent Police And Crime Commissioner Elections I noticed what I thought was a disparity in the incumbent North Yorkshire PCC’s published expenses.

In 2013 it included an entry for >£10,000 for ACPO fees.  As PCCs are not members of ACPO so should not pay membership fees (Association of PCCs fees also paid, no problem there) I submitted a Freedom of Information Request asking who these fees were relating to and for a copy of the invoice.

I notice from the Commissioner’s published expenses an entry on 13th June 2013, this is for Invoice Number SI10384, payable to the Association of Chief Police Officers, for PCCs Fees and Subscriptions, for an amount of £10,695.34 with a description of ACPO fees.

Could you please tell me;

a) To whom do these fees refer?

b) Could you please provide me with electronic copies of the invoice and any other documentation referring to this item of expenditure?

The first reply I got (late) was this;

Good Morning,

I acknowledge that your request is overdue however we are still waiting for the statistics from the relevant business area. I can only apologise for the delay and will endeavour to respond to your request as soon as possible.

Kind regards,

What a L.O.B.  I wasn’t even asking for statistics, PCC’s office running amok.

Eventually they provided with this response

Decision

I have today decided to disclose the located information to you.

Please find enclosed an electronic copy of the invoice described within your request which details membership costs paid by North Yorkshire Police to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). To clarify, these expenses were subtracted from the North Yorkshire Police budget and not the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioners budget (OPCC). These expenses were published upon the OPCC website in error.

With, as promised, a copy of the invoice.

Invoice for ACPO Fees

 My question is this, bearing in mind the number of wholesale changes made to her published expenses just before the elections (possibly hundreds of new or altered entries dating back years), why, when I checked last night is this entry still listed as an expenditure.  Surely it should either have been deleted as erroneous or an equal amount shown as an income (virement from the correct account) to negate the expenditure.  As it stood last night Ms Mulligan’s published expenses still contained a £10,000+ ‘error’.

Sloppy?  Something worse?  Or have I missed something here?  Or is this a perfectly valid way of publishing expenses?

Welcome To North Yorkshire, The Safest County In England

Or something like that.

The incumbent Police and Crime Commissioner, Ms Julia Mulligan has made great play on Facebook about the latest set of Crime Stats from the Office of National Statistics showing that North Yorkshire has the lowest crime rate in England.

Well, I never could resist a challenge, I have been known to mull over dry old figures once or twice before, so how does her claim stack up?

She begins her Facebook post like this

Official figures showing North Yorkshire has the LOWEST crime rate in England demonstrate my record of delivery as Police & Crime Commissioner.

One of her claims is true, crime in North Yorkshire has only risen by 5% compared to 8% nationally.  Crime is UP?  Surely some mistake there?  I presume Reform is working.

Most of the credit can be attributed to a decrease in Theft (down 1%), Theft From Person (down 9%), Other Theft (down 8%), Drugs (down 7%) and Possession of Weapons (down 22%).  The last two can presumably be explained by the lower number of officers on the streets and the Home Secretary’s desired practice of reducing Stop and Search, so less opportunity to find these items.

The other side of the coin is not so rosy it would seem.

Violence Against The Person (UP 22%), Violence With Injury (UP 16%), Violence Without Injury (UP 31%), Sexual Offences (UP 18%), Robbery (UP 24% against a national DECREASE of 2%), Domestic Burglary (UP 4% against a national decrease of 3%), Non Domestic Burglary (UP 4% against a national decrease of 4%).  These are not my categories but the ones quoted by ONS.

So, Ms Mulligan, returning to your Facebook post you seem to be quite happy to take the credit for North Yorkshire having the lowest crime rate in England( 45.1 crimes per 1,000 of the population)

………demonstrate my record of delivery as Police & Crime Commissioner.

My plan for the future will build on this success – that’s why I’m asking you to make me your FIRST Choice for PCC on May 5th.

so I presume you will be equally happy to take the credit for all those offences which are UP.  Violence, Sexual Offences, Robbery, Burglary all UP.  This is the success you will be building on.

No Crime is a good thing but as you know Crime is categorised Minor and Major.  Virtually all of the crimes that are UP are in the Major Category.  I’m guessing that’s not actually a good thing.

Sadly the only conclusion that I can come to is that this is Party Political Spin.  Mrs May and her office keep telling us that Crime is Down, Reform is Working.  Well, even the lauded ONS statistics show us that All Crime (excluding Fraud) is up by 8% year on year.

Could candidates please abstain from spin and just give us the TRUTH, all of it, not just some of it?

I thank you