#2 Letter to ACC Walker
by TIM HICKS
Non Essential Journeys #14
Regular readers will no doubt be aware that in accordance with our duty as journalists, the NYE team have been holding North Yorkshire Police and Cleveland Police to account over allegations of breaches of the Coronavirus Lockdown Regulations by police officers from both forces.
I have not had any response to my complaints, but being an eternal optimist, I nevertheless persevered with another complaint on the 23rd of June 2020, as follows:
Alleged Breaches of the Coronavirus Lockdown Regulations by Police Officers
Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker
North Yorkshire Police,
North Yorkshire DL6 1BF
Dear Assistant Chief Constable Walker,
Open Letter re Breaches of the Coronavirus Lockdown Regulations by Police Officers
Further to my e mail of the 17th of June 2020 below, [See APPENDIX A below] I have had no response from you, or from the Professional Standards Department of North Yorkshire Police. It therefore appears that you have supressed my complaint.
It seems to me to be wrong that on the one hand, you as a Chief Police Officer commanding the response of North Yorkshire Police to the coronavirus pandemic can prosecute members of the public for transgressions of the lockdown rules, while at the same time ignoring multiple and blatant transgressions of the same regulations by your fellow police officers, refusing to respond to correspondence and supressing the inevitable related complaints of misconduct, arising from their actions.
Deputy Chief Constable Phil Cain ignoring social distancing rules, while undertaking an unnecessary visit to Scarborough Police Station
The Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable cannot be seen to be taking disciplinary action against police officers from another force, for committing an offence they themselves have committed. Hence I suspect, the reason my complaints have been supressed. So the net effect of the failure by the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable to set an appropriate example has been to undermine police discipline and the College of Policing Code of Ethics requirements for police conduct for:
- Honesty and Integrity generally (1).
- The specific requirements for Leadership by Chief Police Officers contained within the general provisions of the requirement for honesty and integrity (1.4.3).
- Conduct (9).
- Challenging and Reporting Improper Conduct (10).
I very much regret to say that it appears that under your leadership, the rule of law and the high standards of conduct required by the College of Policing Code of Ethics do not apply to the police in North Yorkshire.
The situation appears to me to be very much worse than the scandal surrounding Mr Dominic Cummings, who is a senior government adviser that also deliberately broke the lockdown rules. This is because the public expect a very much higher standard from police officers, particularly Chief Police Officers.
Chief Constable Lisa Winward and Mr Dominic Cummings
This Guardian article narrates how Mr Nazir Afzal, formerly the chief crown prosecutor for North West England (CPS) has urged the CPS to prosecute Mr Cummings and is indicating that he will launch a private prosecution if it does not. In the article he states that he is taking this action on “behalf of every citizen whose goodwill and generosity led them to make painful sacrifices in order to comply with the law and protect their fellow citizens. There have to be consequences for [alleged] law-breaking otherwise the public lose confidence in those meant to enforce the law and lose trust in the law itself.”
These are very serious issues. Mr Afzal’s remarks above perfectly summarise my feelings about the situation with Mr Cummings, Chief Constable Winward, Deputy Chief Constable Cain, yourself and the three officers from Cleveland Police. I believe the actions of yourself and your colleagues, coupled with your failure to comment about them have brought North Yorkshire Police into disrepute. This undermines public confidence in the police and the rule of law, at a time of a national emergency that has cost thousands of lives which requires the public’s active support to resolve.
Accordingly, on this basis, I regret to inform you that I have now made a complaint about yourself, Chief Constable Winward, Deputy Chief Constable Cain and three police officers from Cleveland Police that have apparently breached the lockdown regulations through the “Tell us about possible breaches of Covid 19 measures website” below.
The reference for my complaint is RCG-13165-20-15012-C.
I am sorry to write to you in these terms, particularly as I think that most officers in North Yorkshire Police are doing their best to protect the public. But there is a principle here. There cannot be one rule for the police and one for everyone else. It cannot be right for you as the Chief Police Officer leading a major operation to save life, to apparently allow police officers to commit the same offences that they are arresting and prosecuting members of the public for. Hence the reason I have taken this action, which I believe to be unprecedented in the history of the British Police Service.
ACC Walker responds to my complaint.
On the 26th of June, I received the following response to my complaint from ACC Walker:
This raises more questions than it answers:
- North Yorkshire Police is the only force in the country, where its two most senior Chief Police Officers are openly alleged to have breached the lockdown regulations. Clearly a scandalous state of affairs. The allegation against the Deputy Chief Constable has even been carried in the national press. Yet there has been no denial of the allegations contained in my complaints from the officers concerned, the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, the Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, or from the Professional Standards Departments of North Yorkshire Police or of Cleveland Police. One cannot help asking why it is that having had the opportunity to deny these allegations, ACC Walker and everyone else have all chosen not to?
- Contrary to what ACC Walker asserts in his letter, I have not had any response to my correspondence with North Yorkshire Police since April 2020 that addresses the issue of alleged breaches of the Coronavirus Lockdown Regulations by police officers, prior to his letter above. So what was said in this previous response, that I have not received?
- Why have the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire and both Chief Constables not commented on my complaints?
- Is this reluctance to comment by everyone concerned indicative of Stonewalling?
Acting in the public interest, the NYE will continue to follow this story. I have gone back to ACC Walker and asked for the previous correspondence he refers to. I will publish it in due course when it is received.
The NYE will also continue to do everything it can to support the efforts of the vast majority of NYP officers to protect the public, by promulgating police information on the lockdown rules.
In the meantime, according to this Yorkshire Coast Radio report Scarborough tops the list for coronavirus fines issued, while at the same time, police officers in Scarborough and Whitby breach the regulations with impunity.
The Lockdown Rules
- Our information and advice on coronavirus and policing
- Government coronavirus guidance on Gov.uk
- Tell us about a possible breach of coronavirus (Covid-19) measures
In this context, to deter people from breaching the lockdown rules, if you become aware of a public figure or police officer breaching the lockdown rules, please photograph/video them using your mobile ‘phone and inform the NYE using the firstname.lastname@example.org e mail.
Right of Reply
If you are mentioned in this article and do not agree with the views expressed in it, or if you wish to correct any factual inaccuracy, please let me know using the email@example.com e mail address and your views and a correction will be published if appropriate.
Original Open Letter to ACC Walker
From: Timothy Hicks
Sent: 17 June 2020 10:42
To: Executive Support (ExecutiveSupport@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk)
Cc: Information NYPCC (firstname.lastname@example.org); ‘email@example.com’
Subject: FAO Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker
Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker
North Yorkshire Police
North Yorkshire DL6 1BF
Dear Assistant Chief Constable Walker,
Open Letter re Breaches of the Coronavirus Lockdown Regulations by Police Officers
I read with great interest the article on the North Yorkshire Police force website in which you expressed your thanks to local people for their support in helping NYP in its efforts to contain the COVID 19 pandemic (here), which is reproduced below:
“Local residents thanked as latest coronavirus fines published
Posted on 11 June 2020 at 06:24pm in News stories
North Yorkshire Police has thanked local people as the latest number of fines issued for breaches of the coronavirus regulations has been published.
The figures show the force has issued the highest number of fines in England to date, but more than 50 percent of them were issued to visitors rather than local people.
Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker, said: “The police’s overarching aim in the response to Covid-19 has been to keep people safe, to protect the NHS and save lives. We took that responsibility seriously.
Although we planned for the worst case scenario, we have seen a much lower than expected absence rate among our officers and staff, enabling us to provide increased patrols in our communities.
We are thankful that out of 1,000s of interactions with the public we rarely had to enforce the regulations. The vast majority of people understood and supported the role of the police in this public health emergency and we are grateful for all of the support and positive engagement we have had from members of the public.
There was a minority who didn’t understand or believed the rules did not apply to them. And where people have not responded to our engagement approach, when we have explained the regulations and encouraged them to follow them, but they have still refused, we have resorted to enforcement – as the public would expect us to.
North Yorkshire is a lovely place, it has two national parks, two areas of outstanding natural beauty, a picturesque coastline and 6,000 miles of roads that connect them all. It’s one of the most visited areas in the country. In fact its population increases by millions during a ‘normal’ tourist season. So we understand why people still wanted to visit – even when they shouldn’t have – and this goes some way to explaining why more than 50 percent of our fines have been issued to visitors from outside of North Yorkshire.
These fines have also been subjected to scrutiny, both before submission to ACRO criminal records office, and by an independent scrutiny panel led by Julia Mulligan, our Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. And we welcome any further scrutiny that may be put in place nationally.
We thank the public of York and North Yorkshire for playing their part during this crisis and for their support through what has been a very fast-moving and challenging time for everyone. The sacrifices they have made has helped to protect 1,000s of people and we should be proud of this.
As more and more restrictions are lifted and communities come back to life, personal responsibility is now key to controlling the virus. We urge everyone to look after themselves and their loved ones, remember that the virus has still not gone away, keep in mind the purpose of the existing restrictions and regulations and stay safe. And remember that as we were before and during this crisis, we are still here for you if you need us.
Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, added:
The number of fines issued across North Yorkshire shows that our police officers and staff have been doing exactly what has been asked of them – enforcing the law to control the virus and keep us all safe.
Over the past few weeks and months, we have had to deal with large numbers of visitors arriving from outside the county. Police have engaged with those breaking the rules and issued fines only when they refused to comply. In this process, they have faced incidents of verbal abuse, had their authority questioned and been spat at – all completely unacceptable responses to perfectly reasonable requests.
I want to place on record my thanks to the officers and staff who have worked so hard to protect us, and thank the majority across North Yorkshire who have followed the law and stayed at home as much as possible. We may be over the peak, but this crisis is not over and as we move towards having to take more personal responsibility as we stay alert to the threat of the virus, I encourage everyone to continue to follow the restrictions and guidelines.
Chair of North Yorkshire’s Local Resilience Forum, Richard Flinton, said: “In North Yorkshire we are making good progress in our battle against this virus and that is as much an achievement due to the support of residents as it is one for those agencies that stood up to lead us through this. We continue to be at a delicate point in managing the virus and so I am incredibly grateful to the vast majority of people continuing to wash their hands regularly and stay two metres apart. We know that these measures are our best defence against Coronavirus. as more shops and businesses reopen in the coming days – please keep it up and continue to play your part in keeping our county safe.”
Click here to view the national figures Last modified: June 11, 2020”
I am sure you will be pleased to know that the North Yorks Enquirer Internet Community News Magazine has also been doing its best to support your efforts and those of the officers you command. We have done this by disseminating police information on the Coronavirus Lockdown Rules and making positive comments on the work done by North Yorkshire Police to save life, by upholding the Coronavirus Lockdown Regulations.
I am sure you will also be pleased to know that in an outstanding example of cooperation between the police and local citizen/community journalists, NYE readers have identified five people that have been blatantly flouting the lockdown regulations and reported them to your force. These are:
- Chief Constable Lisa Winward: Made a series of unnecessary visits to police stations all over North Yorkshire, thereby potentially transferring infection from one station to another and to Force Headquarters.
- Deputy Chief Constable Phil Cain: Made an unnecessary visit to Scarborough Police Station and attended a police retirement ceremony there for a colleague where he did not observe social distancing, thereby potentially transferring infection from Scarborough Police Station to Force Headquarters, and/or vice versa.
- As you state above, North Yorkshire is a lovely place so people still wanted to visit – even when they shouldn’t, which is why more than 50 percent of the fines issued have been issued to visitors from outside North Yorkshire. Sad to relate, the visitors you referred to included three motorcycle policemen from Cleveland Police, who came to Whitby and enjoyed a fish and chip lunch on a bench next to the Whitby RNLI Station. During which they did not observe social distancing and were witnessed by many people in uniform and blatantly flouting the lockdown regulations. They were then shown around a holiday cottage and again did not observe social distancing rules. Thereby endangering their own health and the health of the lady that showed them around.
The situation appears to me to be very similar to the controversy caused by Mr Dominic Cummings breaking the Lockdown rules and then escaping prosecution.
I have raised this with Chief Constable Winward, but she ignored my e mail below. This is contrary to her force media policy, which requires that she acknowledges it and either responds or treats it as a Freedom of Information request. Someone with a less charitable disposition than me might conclude it is because she is one of the “minority who didn’t understand or believed the rules did not apply to them” or to other police officers, leading her to abuse her position as a Chief Police Officer by ensuring that police officers escape censure for misconduct.
Sent: 06 June 2020 14:45
To: Office of the Chief Constable (OfficeoftheChiefConstable@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk)
Cc: Information NYPCC (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Cleveland Police motorbike patrols in Whitby
Dear Chief Constable Winward,
Request for Media Comment
Please see below a photograph passed to me from the NYE of three Cleveland Police motorbikes parked up on Fish Pier at Whitby. The three officers did not social distance, sat on a bench eating fish and chips then accepted an invitation from a cleaning lady to look around a holiday cottage. At no time did they observe social distancing.
Please can you confirm:
- The names and the police numbers of the three officers concerned?
- What these offices were doing in Whitby?
- The cost of this patrol in Whitby in terms of police time and petrol?
- If their actions were within the coronavirus lockdown regulations?
- Will you be making arrangements for them to be arrested and charged with misconduct in public office and breaching the coronavirus regulations?
- Do you and Deputy Chief Constable Cain accept any responsibility for their conduct given your own failure to follow the lockdown rules?
- Do you agree that police officers that undermine the lockdown rules endanger lives?
I look forward to your response. In due course.
In accordance with the NYE’s policy of supporting your work by disseminating police information, I will be including the links below in the article I will be writing on this matter, so our readers have access to up to date information on the Coronavirus Lockdown Regulations from North Yorkshire Police.
Given that you are leading the response of North Yorkshire Police to the Coronavirus Pandemic, please can I ask you to respond to my e mail above addressed to the Chief Constable and also to prosecute the five officers concerned for breaching the same lockdown regulations you are so rigorously enforcing on the public.
On a personal note, I have no doubt that you, Mr Flinton, Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Mulligan and the vast majority of your colleagues are doing their very best to save lives and protect the public. I am very clear that they are all doing a good job. I am sorry to write to you in these terms. I am sorry you have been let down by other police officers. But there is a principle here. There cannot be one rule for the police and one for everyone else. As the Chief Police Officer leading this operation, you cannot on the one hand authorise your officers to arrest and prosecute members of the public, while giving police officers immunity from prosecution for committing the same offences on the other.
I look forward to hearing from you in due course.
Assuring you of the continued support of myself and all my colleagues on the NYE for your efforts to save life and protect the public.