Friday 16th November 2018,
North Yorks Enquirer

N Yorks PCC Julia BULLYGAN: Time To Go

N Yorks Police & Crime Commissioner Julia BULLYGAN: Time To Go

by TIM HICKS

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Introduction

I have followed the progress of the complaint against North Yorkshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner (NYPCC) Julia Mulligan with great interest.

Initial report from the BBC here.

This not the first time that Mrs Mulligan has been accused publicly of misconduct towards her colleagues: 

“The hearing comes two months after York Councillor Peter Dew resigned from the panel accusing Mrs Mulligan of treating its members with “little disguised contempt”.” 

The North Yorkshire Police & Crime Panel is responsible for investigating complaints against the Police & Crime Commissioner and the Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner. It has now issued its findings.

The Findings

The report can be read here. A complaint against Mrs Mulligan was upheld. It makes uncomfortable reading. For those who do not want to work their way through it, some quotes from it (in no particular order) with some personal observations are provided below.

BBC Report here

The complainant is referred to as AB throughout the report:

“However, there are multiple examples given within the complaint statements of the PCC reacting irascibly towards various staff in the office, particularly at stressful points or when the PCC felt her expectations hadn’t been met. The Sub-Committee are concerned that more than one individual also gave an account of senior staff within the PCC’s office apologising privately for the PCC’s apparently inappropriate or disproportionate behaviour, or attempting to justify it.

The Sub-Committee considers that the multiple accounts of staff perceiving themselves to being subjected to frequently irascible and intimidating behaviour by the PCC is sufficient to demonstrate a misuse of power or position and an overbearing approach to supervision of staff.”

…the Sub Committee felt that the wider personal impact of bullying for the complainant and others needed to be particularly recognised. The Sub-Committee felt that this is described to best effect within the Police Federation’s guidance on bullying:  

“[Bullying] can affect an officer’s professional performance and psychological welfare and can be so destructive that the effects continue after work, devastating personal lives as well as careers.” 

However, based on the information available, the Sub-Committee considers that there is evidence that AB (and those providing supporting statements) had experienced bullying behaviour from the PCC across a number of the exemplifying areas highlighted. 

….bullying “may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient”. Bullying may be single or repeated incidents and is not necessarily face-to-face. In addition, the Sub-Committee also feel the following statement from the guidance to be critical: “Bullying…is unwanted behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated, degraded, humiliated or offended”. The Sub-Committee consider it key to place how the complainant felt about the behaviour at the centre of this assessment.

While the PCC may not have deliberately set out to bully the complainant, the behaviours as perceived both by AB and the supporting individuals exemplify characteristics of bullying behaviour as set out in the OPCC’s own guidance on bullying.

The fact that there are multiple accounts gives cause for concern that there is – or has been – an endemic issue around the perception of bullying within the organisational culture, which needs to be addressed. The accounts presented suggest that the perceived behaviour experienced by these individuals was below the standard that should be expected 

Overall the impression gained from these quotes is of a sad tale of employees having their lives made a misery by bullying from someone that cannot manage people, abuses her power as an employer and has no consideration or respect for her staff.

If this is so, then it will inevitably lead to a demoralised workforce, an oppressive office environment and a dysfunctional Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).

This is particularly concerning given the psychological impact of bullying on an individual’s welfare, which is very well described in this Police Federation Policy Document.

In my career, I have seen the devastating effect that bullying can have in an office environment and I am implacably opposed to it. I therefore truly feel very sorry for the people working in the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner. Nor should it be forgotten that the good taxpayers of North Yorkshire, have shelled out good money for an OPCC, which appears to have been degraded by the antics of the PCC: The very person whose duty it is to look after her staff and ensure the efficient running of her office. 

…..the Sub-Committee consider that the ability to demonstrate a calm, centred resilience and leadership in the face of difficulty are essential qualities for the office of PCC and in leading by example; this would help support staff to be able to adapt to fluctuating pressures and circumstances themselves. 

The clear implication of this paragraph is that PCC Mulligan does not have the personal qualities to be a Police& Crime Commissioner, or run the PCC’s Office.

“The PCC has reflected in her statement that she can be “challenging and difficult” in her approach to the role at times but considers that this is part and parcel of being able to survive and thrive in the ‘male-dominated’ arena in which she works and to try and deliver the best service for the public. The Sub-Committee consider that the PCC’s view on leadership cultures is highly stereotypical in approach, based on assumptions around behaviours which she perceives to be demonstrated by successful senior male leaders in public office.” 

I do not know the identity of AB. I suspect it may be a female member of staff. Eight of the fourteen staff employed by the OPCC are women. So I suspect that some of the people that have been subjected to Mrs Mulligan’s behaviour were women. If this is so, then bizarrely, Mrs Mulligan appears to have adopted the unacceptable, outdated, misogynistic and bullying practices used by some men, in the asinine belief that this conduct is acceptable because she perceives them to be successful.

This is incredible given that it is contrary to her own policies and contrary to North Yorkshire Police policy on misogynistic hate crimes.

The conclusion is inescapable that if Mrs Mulligan had been a man, she could have had a misogynistic hate crime recorded against her.

Failure to accept criticism

In terms of the long term implications of this investigation, perhaps the most damning passages in the report are these:

“The PCC has challenged the competency of the complainant and two of the other individuals providing supporting statements.

 No evidence was provided either within the complaint or by the PCC herself to suggest that the PCC had reflected on her personal approach to staff, or apologised directly thereafter, after having vocalised her anger or frustration towards the staff involved.  This is a cause for considerable concern.”

Would you want to work for N  Yorks  Police & Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan?

In general terms, typically, a classic bully cannot see any wrong in his or her actions. They respond to criticism by attacking the critic, or holding them responsible for the consequences of their own actions.

In this case, Mrs Mulligan has been censured by the Sub-Committee after an open and fair hearing. Yet she cannot accept she has done anything wrong and has dismissed the complaints by alleging that the complainant and two of the witnesses were not competent.

The same theme occurs in her personal statement, which can be read here. Two quotes from it will suffice I think:

“I therefore do not recognise any ‘systemic’ issues within the OPCC.  

…..were there a mechanism to appeal, I would certainly do so.”

 It seems to me that Police & Crime Commissioner Mulligan is in denial.

If this is so then it seems to me unlikely that she will be able to reform and stop her unacceptable behaviour.

On a related point, Mrs Mulligan has some history. The refusal to apologise or consider any failings in her own conduct accords with my own experience of Mrs Mulligan. In 2013 the Police & Crime Panel upheld a complaint by myself against Mrs Mulligan and told her to apologise to me. Needless to say as with the findings above of bullying of her staff, Mrs Mulligan did not apologise.

TIME TO GO

In my opinion, it is obvious that PCC Mulligan is not up to the job and her standard of behaviour falls far below that which the Police, her staff and the people of North Yorkshire should be entitled to receive.

She should resign.

Reasons:

  1. Bullying of any sort is completely unacceptable. In most occupations it is grounds for immediate dismissal for gross misconduct. The Police & Crime Commissioner should be no exception.
  2. Mrs Mulligan is the Conservative Party candidate for the office of PCC. Following on from the Parliamentary Bullying inquiry, her personal conduct is completely unacceptable in a leading politician. It is also contrary to the policy of the Conservative Party, which she has brought into disrepute.
  3. How can the ordinary decent Constables, Sergeants and Inspectors of North Yorkshire Police credibly investigate allegations of harassment and bullying, when their own Police and Crime Commissioner behaves like this? Her conduct just brings the force into disrepute. The NYE photoon below referring to the visit of the Victims Commissioner Baroness Newlove to the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire is a classic example of PCC Mulligan’s behaviour making NYP the subject of ridicule.

  1. Four employees out of the fourteen employed in the OPCC (29%) gave evidence against Mrs Mulligan. That took a lot of courage and commendable loyalty to their colleague. In my experience, for every one person that will stand up and be counted by giving evidence, there are another two that won’t. The implication being that Mrs Mulligan has alienated most or all of the staff at the OPCC. It appears questionable if she can command the loyalty and support of her staff. It also appears likely that the OPC is not operating efficiently, affecting its ability to deliver a good service to the people of North Yorkshire.
  2. 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 at the time: “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 PCC Mulligan continue to act as a Police and Crime Commissioner when she herself indulges in behaviour that the police are trying to stamp out?
  3. As national lead for Police and Crime Commissioner ethics, Mrs Mulligan has been found to have engaged in deeply offensive and unethical conduct. She has let down all the other Police and Crime Commissioner and has made a mockery of the role. She cannot in my view retain this portfolio.
  4. It appears obvious from the report that Mrs Mulligan does not have the personal qualities or experience necessary to manage staff or run the OPCC. She obviously cannot accept criticism or see any wrong in her own behaviour, no matter how unacceptable it is.

I believe firmly in leadership by example. PCC Mulligan’s conduct is unacceptable and contrary to the values and culture of any reputable organisation. Especially in a job as stressful and demanding as the police service, where the public expect only the highest standards of conduct.

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