Wednesday 29th May 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

Missing: Chiefs’ £120K – NYE Proscribed Again

Missing: Chiefs’ £120K – NYE Proscribed Again

by TIM HICKS

~~~~~

Introduction

The NYE has been covering several scandals in North Yorkshire Police (NYP) recently. This has led to Policem, Fire & Crime Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe re-imposing her policy of proscribing the NYE and to the new Chief Constable Tim Forber continuing this policy. The misconduct scandals are:

Senior Officer Suspended

In November, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) started a criminal investigation into an allegation that a Senior NYP Officer may have provided a false or misleading account to avoid receiving a sanction for a speeding offence. In December, it announced this and that the Officer concerned had been notified of the investigation and suspended from duty.

No one will say who this Officer is – or state his rank.

Missing: Chiefs’ £120K

Chief Constable Lisa Winward suddenly stopped work in December 2023 and Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Elliot Foskett was appointed as Acting Chief Constable. Bizarrely, Chief Constable Winward was still described as Chief Constable on the Force website.

This sudden and unexpected change is even more perplexing given that she was due to retire and hand over to a new Chief Constable Tim Forber – newly promoted from South Yorkshire Police – on 31st March 2024.

Normally, if the Chief Constable was unavailable for duty, the Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) would step in and take over. However, DCC Mabs Hussain’s profile disappeared off the Force website at about the same time.

DCC Hussain was replaced by ACC Scott Bissett, acting as Temporary DCC. Scrutiny of DCC Hussain’s expenses has shown that he did not submit any expenses after 30th November 2023, indicating that he stopped work some time after that date. He had only been appointed as DCC in January 2022 – far less than the normal tenure for a Chief Officer

This meant that NYP was the only Force in the country, possibly in the history of British Policing, that did not have either a permanently appointed Chief Constable or DCC.

In my article, Missing Chiefs cost 23 grand a month, I asserted that the salary cost of paying for a Chief Constable and DCC to do nothing was £23,000 per month. This triggered a complaint from a reader that I had not included their pension contributions. The figures were only intended to be illustrative, but I am delighted to observe that this complaint proves the NYE’s readers are astute and financially aware.

Re-visiting this issue, the taxpayer has been paying the salaries of Chief Constable Winward and DCC Hussain to sit at home doing nothing for about four months. Adding on the pension and Employers National Insurance contributions my best estimate of the corrected figure is between £120,000 and £130,000. This is only an estimate and is intended to give an idea of the figures involved.

In the latest twist to this bizarre chain of events, Chief Constable Tim Former took up his appointment on 31st March 2024. At the same time, ACC Scott Bissett was confirmed as permanent DCC, without apparently having to go through the normal selection process.

An article was published in “this is the coast Local Radio” (here) on 3rd April 2024, describing Acting Chief Constable Foskett as the outgoing Chief Constable, when in fact he was no such thing. The article – which is based on official information – is misleading. The Chief Constable until 31st March 2014 was Chief Constable Lisa Winward, not Acting Chief Constable Foskett.

Even more intriguing, Chief Constable Winward had served as Chief Constable since April 2018, but there is no mention of her on the Force website, she did not issue any retirement statement and there is no mention of her retirement on the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner’s website. In fact, there has been no official statement on the retirement of either Chief Constable Winward or DCC Hussain in any media statement, on the reason why their services were terminated early. They appear to have been air-brushed out of NYP history. This is also unprecedented.

No explanation has been given for this change or the justification of this expenditure, by the official responsible for holding the police to account and keeping the public informed Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe.

The only media outlet covering the full facts of this bizarre situation – so far as they can be ascertained – is, of course, the NYE.

Female Detainees Being Abused in NYP Custody Suites

Unquestionably, the most serious scandal the NYE has been covering is that NYP Officers have been watching female detainees while they are in a state of undress in the cells. Predictably, the NYE investigation has been faced with a wall of silence from both Chief Constable Winward, Acting Chief Constable Foskett and Commissioner Metcalfe.

In Acting Chief Constable Foskett’s case, this may be because we exposed his misleading description of NYP custody arrangements as good (article here) when he was the ACC responsible for Custody Suites. In fact, a custody inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), had identified serious failings detailed in the above article across the full range of Custody activities.

Although no one denies that these allegations of sexual abuse of detainees are accurat, there has been no investigation or comment on these allegations from any of these officials. They just use their joint policy of proscribing the NYE as a pretext to justify refusing to comment.

This follows on from the convictions of rapist and murderer PC Wayne Couzens and serial rapists PC Steven Carrick and PC Cliff Mitchell. They should all have been detected earlier and dismissed the Police Service, but weren’t. As with the NYP Custody Officers, all of these predatory Officers were protected from arrest by their Police colleagues and allowed to carry on offending with impunity.

Commenting on this, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the forthcoming elections for Mayor of York & North Yorkshire Combined Authority commented:

Regarding the allegations that male officers have been watching female detainees while undressing, this is a serious issue of concern. As Mayor I would ensure that this was thoroughly investigated and prosecuted accordingly.

Cllr Felicity Cunliffe-Lister,

Masham & Fountains Division,

North Yorkshire Council.

The same line as taken by the NYE and its readership. After years of dealing with obfuscation by Commissioner Metcalfe and successive Chief Constables, it is gratifying to see the NYE being properly supported by a mainstream politician.

NYE Proscribed – Again

Regular readers will be aware that Commissioner Metcalfe, Chief Constable Winward and Acting Chief Constable Fokett all applied a policy of proscribing the NYE and refusing to respond to its enquiries. This conveniently justified their policy of refusing to answer the questions we were asking so they could withhold information from the public. I am unaware of any other Police Force in the UK that pursues a similar policy.

Commissioner Metcalfe subsequently notified me that it was withdrawing this policy and would respond to media enquiries from the NYE in the normal way. However, since that time, nothing – de facto – has changed and Commissioner Metcalfe is still not responding to media enquiries from the NYE, or to FOI requests.

I have written to Chief Constable Forber asking him to review the proscription order and received no response from him. Indicating that he is also maintaining a policy of not responding to media enquiries from the NYE.

All of this is an attack on the ability of a free press to hold public bodies like the North Yorkshire Police to account. This is a vital duty of the media. Particularly when those officials that are paid to do this – in this case, Commissioner Metcalfe and successive Chief Constables simply don’t.

Clearly, it is unsatisfactory when public officials proscribe journalists to protect predatory Police Officers.*

Chief Constable Forber and Commissioner Metcalfe were provided with a draft of this article and invited to comment. At the time the article was sent for publication, no comment had been received.

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 letters@nyenquirer.uk email address and your views and a correction will be published if appropriate.

*Note from the Editor: The NYE exists to expose misconduct and corruption. I am sure that our readers will understand that if it has been proscribed again, it shows that someone in authority has something to hide and by challenging it, we must be doing something right.

Comments are closed.