Thursday 29th October 2020,
North Yorks Enquirer

NY Police Essential Journeys #3

North Yorkshire Police Essential Journeys #3

by TIM HICKS

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Introduction

Along with everyone else, I have feelings of admiration for the emergency services and the way they are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic at the risk of their own lives. The NYE has tried to support the efforts of the NHS and North Yorkshire Police (NYP) to ensure public safety by disseminating advice from NYP on crime prevention during the pandemic.

I believe passionately in leadership by example and was appalled by the conduct of Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) Phil Cain, who is apparently breaching the lockdown rules by undertaking unnecessary journeys and not maintaining social distancing rules. NYE articles below:

  • “North Yorkshire Police Essential Journeys #1”, here.
  • “North Yorkshire Police Essential Journeys #2”, here.

Chief Constable Lisa Winward also undertakes non-essential travel

In this statement of policy, Chief Constable Lisa Winward remarks on the lockdown rules:

Anyone who thinks this does not apply to them is putting lives at risk. North Yorkshire Police will use all powers we have to stop that, to keep us all safe and to ultimately save lives”.

Stirring stuff indeed. It is clear from her statement that Chief Constable Winward believes that anyone breaching the lockdown rules is endangering life and should be severely dealt with, using the full weight of the law.

So I was shocked to read during my review of DCC Cain’s Twitter account that Chief Constable Chief Constable Lisa Winward may also have undertaken non-essential journeys. This time to Skipton, which – bizarrely for a time of crisis – took up the time of Police Sergeants Earnshaw and Stubbs “looking after” her.

To be fair, Chief Constable Winward has not revealed why she visited Skipton. But at a time of a pandemic, I would expect her to be at force headquarters or self-isolated at home. I am not aware of any major incident or emergency at Skipton that is so grave it would require the operational presence of the Chief Constable to control it. Or any other reason that would require “absolutely necessary” travel to Skipton Police Station. So the conclusion is inescapable that her attendance there was unnecessary. Or more precisely, not “absolutely necessary”.

Two Idiots

DCC Cain issued a Tweet about a couple that were fined for breaking the lockdown rules. In this tweet he states:

Two idiots have been fined for breaking lockdown rules by driving to Scarborough to view a second hand car.”

This appears to be essentially the same behaviour exhibited by DCC Cain and Chief Constable Winward.

The wider implications

In a crisis of this magnitude and projected duration, I would expect the Chief Constable to be available at Force Headquarters to provide command and control. Not swanning around the county on jollies, to obtain personal PR opportunities with silly tweets about two sergeants “looking after her”.

The question has to be asked, what was it that was so important about the Chief Constable’s visit that it removed Police Sergeants Earnshaw and Stubbs from police operations to save life by enforcing the lockdown rules during the greatest crisis this country has faced since the Second World War? Can’t she look after herself on a visit to one of her own police stations?

The Chief Medical Officer for Scotland Catherine Calderwood was recently forced to resign by Scotland’s First Minister for undertaking two non-essential journeys of forty-four miles each in her private life. BBC article here. Dr Calderwood was also given a formal police warning for breaking the lockdown rules.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon (left) and Chief Medical Officer for Scotland Doctor Catherine Calderwood
at a televised briefing on the Coronavirus pandemic shortly before her resignation (right)

Scottish Police Federation General Secretary Calum Steele has been quoted as saying:

“The job of policing during this Covid-19 epidemic just got that little bit harder this morning…..There are literally thousands of families climbing the walls of their own homes desperate for respite and would love to perambulate by the sea but don’t. We also have thousands of police making sure they don’t. You try being a police officer explaining that to someone today.”

Following Dr Calderwood’s resignation, Ms Sturgeon commented that Dr Calderwood’s actions risked undermining the government’s public health strategy.

Some will argue that, as Chief Officers, the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable have to get around to visit the troops on the ground, maintain morale and know what is going on. I disagree. The lockdown rules allow work travel only if absolutely necessary.

By indulging in non-essential travel at work, when the government has ordered businesses to close to prevent this, Chief Constable Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Cain are essentially indulging in exactly the same offending that Dr Calderwood indulged in. Worse, both officers are important figures representing the public face of the fight against Coronavirus in North Yorkshire. By blatantly and publicly contravening the lockdown rules, diverting police resources away from operational duties, indulging in non-essential travel and not respecting social distancing, they have undermined the efforts of the police to protect the public.

I believe passionately in leadership by example. This is a classic example of NYP Chief Police Officers ignoring the rules and doing whatever they please. They both publicly delivered repeated warnings against unnecessary travel on the grounds that it endangered life. Then flaunted the lockdown rules on multiple occasions, whilst referring to members of the public that did the same as “idiots”. How arrogant and irresponsible is that?

In my opinion, the behaviour of both officers is a disgrace and unacceptable.

This has an immediate impact of undermining the efforts of police officers on the ground in North Yorkshire to enforce the law. From now on when they stop a motorist to ascertain if their travel is unnecessary, I have no doubt they will be told that if it is OK for Chief Police Officers to break the rules then it is OK for everyone else. This puts the ordinary North Yorkshire Police Constable in an impossible position when dealing with the public at a traffic stop.

The Lockdown Rules

The NYE will continue to do everything it can to support the efforts of the vast majority of NYP officers, who are doing their best to police a pandemic at some considerable risk to themselves, by disseminating information on the Coronavirus.

In this interview (here), Chief Constable Nick Adderley of Northamptonshire Police asserts that the police will be “honing in” on members of the public (but presumably not Chief Constables and Deputy Chief Constables) that do not follow the lockdown rules. He emphasises that, under the new legislation, they can be fined or arrested. They are also subject to arrest under existing police powers under anti-social and public order legislation.

For NYP Chief Officers and other “idiots” that are unaware of the lockdown rules, they can be read in this excellent article from the BBC, here.

Latest advice from NYP here.

Excellent source for official advice from the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire here.

Advice from the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire to stay away from the Yorkshire Coast and save lives here.

Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker is North Yorkshire Police’s Gold Commander for leading the response to the outbreak. He is, quoted in this article as stating:

“The majority of people across York and North Yorkshire have listened to the Government’s guidance and have stayed at home and I thank them for that. But there are still a minority of people who are ignoring it. With Easter approaching, we understand people’s wish to visit family and friends but please remember the very serious reasons why this is not possible right now. 

No-one could fail to be moved by the images we’ve seen over the past few weeks, from a child’s funeral to exhausted NHS staff who are risking their own live to save ours. We really are all in this together, so I urge everyone to please remember why we all have to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. 

We’ll be continuing our high-visibility patrols over the weekend and will continue to engage, explain and encourage members of the public to adhere to the guidelines. We will only use enforcement if we have to. As we have seen from our patrols this week, the vast majority of people who we have spoken with were out for genuine reasons, but there are some who continue to flout the rules. Please don’t be one of them. And remember everything that North Yorkshire has to offer will still be here when we have come through this.” 

ACC Mike Walker
Doing his best along with everyone else at NYP except the senior command team to protect the public.

Right of Reply

I have provided Chief Constable Winward with a copy of this article and the other article I have written on this subject and asked for a press comment. I have not received one.

The Chief Constable has a policy of ignoring media requests from the NYE. In my opinion, this is because the NYE is the only media outlet in North Yorkshire that holds NYP to account, but no doubt Chief Constable Winward would disagree on this. Suffice it to say that if she wishes to respond to my enquiry, or comment on the article, her response will be published.

Further, I will issue a retraction and apology for any error in the article.

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