2 PCCs: Approach & Performance Comparison
NYE readers will no doubt be aware that Chief Constable Denise Curran of Humberside Police had been removed for being ineffective by the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Humberside Keith Hunter. The official announcement is here, but as normal with official announcements, they do not tell the full story.
PCC Keith Hunter and Chief Constable Justine Curran and Humberside Police
Chief Constable Curran: Background
Chief Constable Curran has an interesting past. Her official biography is here, but briefly Chief Constable Curran was brought up in Lancashire and obtained a degree in classics from Hull University, joining Greater Manchester Police in 1989, achieving the rank of Sergeant in 1991, Inspector in 1995, Chief Inspector in 1998 and Chief Superintendent in 2003. In 2007 she achieved Chief Officer Rank as Assistant Chief Constable dealing with counter terrorism. In 2009, she left the GMP after splitting up with her husband and became Chief Constable of Tayside Police. (Interestingly, one of her successors was Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe, notorious for getting drunk and flashing her boobs at an official police function. NYE coverage here). However, I digress. Returning to Chief Constable Curran, it was while at Tayside, that she started becoming involved in controversies:
- Her Personal Assistant Theresa Noble was arrested and charged with an Insurance fraud. Ms Noble was also a personal friend of Chief Constable Curran’s and babysat her children at her home. During the trial she confirmed that one of her duties was booking the Chief Constable’s hairdressing appointments every fortnight. Ms Noble was found not guilty after agreeing to give evidence against her partner, who was also found not guilty. Full report from STV here. Ms Noble resigned from Tayside Police after she was cleared.
- As a result of the fraud allegation Ms Noble was suspended from her job at Tayside Police and returned her police issue blackberry to officers from the force professional standards department. One of them examined it to find that Chief Constable Curran had been texting Ms Noble speculating on the size of a colleague’s penis. The colleague was a senior police officer whom Chief Constable Curran suspected of having an affair with a Tayside Police civilian worker. Chief Constable Curran had had the police officer put under surveillance to ascertain the truth of the rumor. Chief Constable Curran admitted unprofessional behavior, but was supported by the former Tayside Joint Police Board. Full story here, courtesy of the Courier and Advertser. No action taken against Chief Constable Curran, but two police officers from the Professional Standards Department were subsequently reprimanded for improperly accessing the data on the phone. The senior officer and his alleged civilian lover both left the force shortly afterwards…….
- A three page file was sent to a local paper making multiple complaints against Chief Constable Curran but she was cleared of all the allegations by the Tayside Joint Police Board. Detailed report from the Scotsman here.
- Following the merger of all the Scottish forces into Police Scotland, Chief Constable Curran moved on to join Humberside Police as Chief Constable in 2013. According to press reports, as part of her recruitment package Chief Constable Curran received a £39,000 relocation allowance for moving from Tayside to Humberside. Daily Mail expose here.
- In 2013 after her departure from Tayside, a dossier on Chief Constable Curran and Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Scobie compiled by Assistant Chief Constable Angela Taylor of Tayside Police containing a number of allegations of improper behavior from multiple sources, disappeared from a secure corridor in the executive offices at the former Tayside Police Headquarters. A team of specialist detectives sent from Police Scotland to investigate did not get to the bottom of the disappearing dossier and (surprise, surprise) no arrests were made. But the dossier had conveniently disappeared. After her retirement Assistant Chief Constable Taylor was scathing about the theft of the dossier and the two officers it concerned. Confirming her belief that it had not been taken by someone external to the police. Detailed local report from the Courier and Advertiser here.
- In 2014 she attracted national press criticism after she called for police officers to have special permission to go on school term time holidays. Full story from the Daily Mail here.
- Humberside, police received an “Inadequate” rating from HM Inspector of Constabulary in June 2015 and a “Requires Improvement” rating in another inspection in in May 2016, following her appointment as Chief Constable in 2013.
Enter the new Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside
On the 6th of May 2016 Keith Hunter was elected as Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Humberside.
A new broom sweeps clean and the 2016 HMIC review prompted severe criticism from Police and Crime Commissioner Keith Hunter, who issued a requirement for improvement within the next six months.
Despite having thus far escaped censure for her controversial past throughout her career, PCC Hunter subsequently forced Chief Constable Curran to retire. The catalyst for PCC Hunter’s action was the imminent release of two reports critical of Humberside, one on efficiency and the other on the force’s child protection issues. He is quoted in the Grimsby Telegraph as follows:
“Having dug around and spoken to inspectors they indicated some improvements were needed. They indicated some concerns in potentially serious areas like vulnerability and the protection of children. I thought public confidence could not be maintained without changing leadership. I think the public need to feel that something is changing.”
Mr Hunter’s interview and comments can be read in full here.
No retirement financial package was agreed with Chief Constable Curran and she departed without a settlement.
How does the approach of the Humberside PCC compare with the approach in North Yorkshire?
A few brief comparisons:
- The Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside Mr Keith Hunter is a retired senior police officer, which is obviously gives him a good background in policing. The Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire Julia Mulligan has not released what her previous occupation was, or what if any professional qualifications she holds, other than giving a vague description in her biography. This information has been requested by the NYE, but PCC Mulligan has not responded
- The primary duty of the Police and Crime Commissioner is to hold the police to account as North Yorkshire Police state on their website. In the case of the Humberside PCC, he has not hesitated to hold the Chief Constable to account over failings in performance. In the case of PCC Mulligan, I have never known her to ever issue one word of criticism of North Yorkshire Police or any of its Officers. Although it has faced the worst scandal in its history during her tenure, over its failure to arrest Peter Jaconelli and Jimmy Savile, despite multiple complaints over many years.
- In the case of Humberside police, no financial settlement was made with Chief Constable Curran. Compare this with North Yorkshire Police (NYP), which has been rocked by scandal after scandal of police funds being siphoned off to Chief Police Officers, with no disciplinary action taken against the officers, or the staff that authorised the transfers and no credible attempt made to recover the money. This was both under the previous North Yorkshire Police Authority and during Mrs Mulligan’s tenure. Examples of some of them are given here, although arguably the most disgraceful was the £250,000 payout to disgraced North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell when he left office.
- A key element in PCC Hunter’s decision to implement change was his concern over the inadequate performance of Humberside Police in protecting children. For years the North Yorks Enquirer has been highlighting concerns over the ability of the NY Protecting Vulnerable Persons (PVP) Unit. There have been repeated failures in child protection and leadership in the PVP unit for many years. They are detailed in this article on the repeated failures in the NYP PVP Unit. In particular, Mrs Mulligan ordered a review of the PVP Unit which gave it a resounding vote of confidence.
Child Sexual Exploitation is quite rightly a top priority for both myself and North Yorkshire Police, and on behalf of the public I need to by fully reassured this is being dealt with appropriately. I have asked the Chief Constable for a comprehensive update on our plans to tackle this issue, how we are working with partners, and most importantly, what we are doing to safeguard children from sexual exploitation.”
One month later the IPCC announced it was investigating NYP for its inability to process intelligence about paedophiles. So far as I am aware, despie scandal after scandal, no effective action has been taken by PC Mulligan to resolve the issues in the PVP Unit or to change the leadership. The Ampleforth investigation leads me to believe that nothing has changed or improved. In short PCC Mulligan has been completely ineffective in reforming the PVP unit, despite the fact that she has identified the protection of the vulnerable as a high priority.
- PCC Hunter has fostered an open relationship with the press and has been open about the problems facing Humberside Police. PCC Mulligan has so far as I am aware never issued any criticism of this nature and has only issued positive politically correct sound bites. My experience with her is that she will not engage with the press on issues involving criticism of NYP. Witness this letter from November 2016 raising serious issues about policing in North Yorkshire, but which remains unanswered, despite many assurances from PCC Mulligan that she or a member of her staff will respond. In particular, PCC Mulligan will not respond on why NYP Communications Policy refuses to follow ACPO policy of treating Citizen journalists as mainstream media.
Following on from scandal after scandal involving misconduct of various sorts by Chief Police Officers and repeated incompetence and failures in police investigations, it may be that the wind of change is sweeping through the ranks of underperforming Police Officers. We shall see. However, I predict that this will not be the case in North Yorkshire so long as PCC Mulligan is in charge.
PCC Mulligan was provided with a draft of this article and asked to comment, but typically, no comment was received.