Julia Mulligan will NOT seek Re-Election
by TIM HICKS
As predicted by yours truly, Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner (PFCC) Julia Mulligan has formally indicated that she will not be standing for re-election in May 2020.
Last month, North Yorkshire Conservatives failed to support Mrs Mulligan’s application to be the automatic Conservative choice for the commissioner nomination for the May 2020 election. Other candidates would be allowed to stand to represent the Conservative Party, although Ms Mulligan could have put herself forward for a place on the shortlist if she wished. (This is not actually de-selection, but was nevertheless a crushing blow to her credibility).
In my article Julia Mulligan De-selected, I stated that the possibility of her standing in 2020, having lost the automatic nomination as the Conservative Party preferred candidate, was remote.
Mrs Mulligan’s statement can be read here.
I am unaware of a similar situation where a sitting PFCC has been publicly dumped by his or her party prior to an election. Highly unusual, particularly for the Conservative party which normally handles these things behind closed doors. So this must indicate just how bad the perception of Julia Mulligan has become.
I think it is worth looking at the reasons for her demise:
- PFCC Mulligan could not run a team, because of her abrasive personal style. She was found to have bullied her staff in a formal complaint laid by one of them and supported by others. I understand that she is still the subject of other ongoing complaints.
- PFCC Mulligan led North Yorkshire Police into a financial crisis leading to criticism in Parliament by a former Chair of the Police Authority Baroness Harris, who is quoted as saying:
“Indeed, it appears that she has led North Yorkshire Police into its worst financial crisis since the millennium.
There is a £10m shortfall this financial year, which may come as a surprise to the people of North Yorkshire as there has been no public acknowledgement of this gathering storm.”
- North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire & Crime Panel refused to support her proposal for an increase in the police council tax precept, which was incompetently presented and unsupported by any indication of what it would be spent on.
- Failure to lead by example. Historically, bullying was the top staff complaint by officers and employees of North Yorkshire Police. BBC report here. A North Yorkshire Police Chief Officer stated: “Bullying and inappropriate leadership is not something that we would support.” PCC Mulligan has failed to set the appropriate personal example and has undermined those NYP officers that are doing their best to prevent it. How can PFCC Mulligan continue to act as a Police Fire and Crime Commissioner when she herself indulges in behaviour that the police are trying to stamp out? Her position nationally as lead spokesperson on transparency and integrity for the Association of Police, Fire & Crime Commissioners had become untenable as a result of her bullying and she had become a huge embarrassment to the association and to North Yorkshire Police.
- Poor performance by North Yorkshire Police. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) Crime Data Integrity Inspection (CDI) concluded that 20% of crimes in North Yorkshire were not recorded. Hence the force looked good, even though it was in fact performing badly. Her term was marked by falling performance as assessed by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services. Had the HMICFRS CDI Inspection been taken into account it would probably have had an overall force performance of “Inadequate” for the efficiency pillar of the HMICFRS PEEL Force Assessment.
- Failure to hold the police to account. I can think of no one single occasion when PFCC Mulligan held the Chief Constable to account or acted as anything other than a figurehead. Codhead summed up the cosy relationship between Chief Constable Jones and PFCC Mulligan perfectly below:
- Focus on photo opportunities and politically correct causes like misogynistic hate crime, that give good positive publicity, but did not do anything about addressing the major policing issues in North Yorkshire.
- Obsession with public image which resulted in NYP and the PFCC splitting the joint Corporate Communications Team. Leading to an increase in the PR Wonks employed in the Chief Constable’s Corporate Communications Team and the PFCCs Corporate Communications Team. Yet as Baroness Hughes pointed out above, key information on the £10 million shortfall for North Yorkshire Police was not released to the public.
- Despite being the lead spokesperson on ethics for the National Association of Police Fire and Crime Commissioners, no progress was made on the reform of the police complaints process following her encounter with Nigel Ward. NYE coverage here.
- Profligacy and an aggressive policy towards anyone that criticised her, that resulted in her taking on myself and Nigel Ward with a half-baked, badly thought out harassment action. The decision to use a pretext to commence proceedings was taken by Julia Mulligan, Joanna Carter and Chief Constable Jones, even though they all had conflicts of interest which they did not declare. Chief Constable Jones, for instance, stood to make a lot of money from damages if the action had been successful, but none of them recused themselves from the fundamentally flawed decision to proceed. The outcome left the good taxpayers of North Yorkshire holding on to a huge bill for no real gain. Even now, such is its political sensitivity that PFCC Mulligan will not release the full amount of public money she spent on this action.
- Refusal to accept or face up to any personal failings. Hence her bizarre response when the North Yorkshire Police, Fire & Crime Panel upheld bullying allegations against her. She refused to accept the outcome and criticised the quality of the Police, Fire & Crime Panel investigation and alleged that the Conservative Party did not treat women very well, although both of her predecessors as Head of the North Yorkshire Police Authority had been women, who were selected in preference to men.
- Obsessive focus on positive publicity and a refusal to face up to bad news or tough decisions by refusing to respond to correspondence. The recent furore over Chief Constable Winward taking an annual foreign trip to attend an FBI Alumni conference in Helsinki at the tax payers expense and the refusal of PFCC Mulligan to comment on it at all is a classic example. NYE article on what has become known as the Helsinki Pissupski scandal here. (Article on the latest shocking developments to follow).
On the positive side, PFCC Mulligan emphasises in her statement above that victim support in North Yorkshire improved very significantly during her tenure as PFCC and I think this is accurate. There was also investment in the force control room and an improvement in the way sexual offences were investigated. These are commendable achievements. However, for the role of PFCC to work, the Commissioner has to be all over every issue, including misconduct by Chief Officers and failings in policing. PFCC Mulligan was not able to handle the full range of issues in her portfolio and that is why in my opinion it is best for her to go.
So it has come to pass that Julia Mulligan’s political career has finished in abject failure, having failed in role, secured the hostility of her workforce after some of them had complaints of harassment upheld against her, attracted national media and parliamentary criticism and failed to retain the confidence of her party. Which then predictably signalled its intention to dump her in favour of a more competent replacement.
This leaves another issue.
North Yorkshire is now saddled with a lame duck Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner that has no political future and probably no interest in properly performing the duties of Police Fire & Crime Commissioner between now and her replacement in May 2020.
I have already noticed that for the first time, the Deputy PFCC Will Naylor is now handling correspondence on Julia Mulligan’s behalf. While I have no doubt he is doing his best to cover the situation and run the Office of the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner, that does not change the fact that the taxpayers of North Yorkshire are paying PFCC Mulligan to do this, not Will Naylor.