Thursday 24th September 2020,
North Yorks Enquirer

NY Police Essential Journeys #4

North Yorkshire Police Essential Journeys #4

by TIM HICKS

~~~~~

Introduction: The four pillars of democracy and freedom of the press

There are four pillars of government in a healthy democracy:

  1. Legislature: The legislature is elected and passes laws which reflect public opinion.
  2. Executive: The executive enforces and implements laws.
  3. Judiciary: The judiciary interprets law and ensures that the executive implements laws in accordance with the wishes of the legislature.
  4. Media. The media ensures that the people are aware of what’s happening, ensures transparency in the working of the other pillars, identifies issues of public concern, holds public bodies to account and mobilises public opinion when they do wrong.

North Yorkshire Police (NYP) is part of the Second Pillar, executing laws passed by the legislature.

Crime journalists are unique, because they operate within the both the Second Pillar and also the Fourth. Sometimes they do this simultaneously. The NYE’s coverage of the Coronavirus outbreak is a classic example of the media acting in both pillars at once.

NYE Media Operations during the coronavirus pandemic: Second Pillar

Along with everyone else, the NYE team have feelings of admiration for the NHS and the emergency services and the way they are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic at the risk of their own lives.

Chief Constable Lisa Winward

Well known defender of civil liberties and admirer of journalists.

The NYE has tried to support the efforts of the NHS and North Yorkshire Police (NYP) to ensure public safety. It has run an article disseminating advice from NYP on crime prevention during the pandemic. NYE article here. We have also published police notices on the new coronavirus lockdown rules.

In doing this, the NYE has acted in the Second Pillar as agents of the police, by disseminating police information, to inform the public and deter them from contravening the new regulations. I would like to think that this has helped North Yorkshire Police and helped our readers to stay safe.

NYE Media Operations during the coronavirus pandemic: Fourth Pillar

The media also has a duty to act in the Fourth Pillar of a democratic state, by holding the judiciary, the legislature and the executive – in this case the police – to account. This applies particularly in a national life-threatening emergency.

Deputy Chief Constable Phil Cain

The NYE team has therefore run a series of articles on breaches of the coronavirus lockdown rules by the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police Lisa Winward and the Deputy Chief Constable Phil Cain.

  • North Yorkshire Police Essential Journeys #1 here
  • North Yorkshire Police Essential Journeys #2 here
  •  North Yorkshire Police Essential Journeys #3 here

In summary it appears that the two most senior police officers of the largest county force in the country have between them:

  • Made journeys that are not absolutely necessary.
  • Not maintained the two metre social distancing rules. Thereby endangering the health and safety of police staff.
  • Publicly ridiculed members of the public that committed the same offences they themselves committed.
  • Taken advantage of their rank and position as Chief Police Officers to ensure they will not be arrested by officers of North Yorkshire Police for contravening the lockdown rules.
  • Failed to set the appropriate example to the public and their subordinates in North Yorkshire Police as Chief Police Officers.
  • Publicly undermined the efforts of every other police officer in North Yorkshire to protect the public by preventing unnecessary travel.
  • Issued public statements on social media approving of this conduct, when they should be following the example of the NYE by doing everything they can to discourage it. Thereby making fools of themselves, bringing the force into disrepute and opening it up to ridicule.

This represents a catastrophic failure of leadership that has endangered lives.

A legitimate public interest

To quote David Davis MP, a leading advocate of press freedom:

“A truly free press must be able to expose uncomfortable truths, highlight underperforming governmental departments and be a nuisance to the establishment.  

Journalists must be able to investigate, probe and expose issues of legitimate public concern. 

If our press is unable to do this, then society will suffer for it. “

These rules are onerous and difficult to obey, but they apply to everyone and must be obeyed in the public interest.

In this statement of policy, Chief Constable Lisa Winward herself confirms:

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”.

The circumstances appear to be similar to those which led to the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland receiving a formal police caution and being forced to resign, for making unnecessary journeys. In another example, referred to by Deputy Chief Constable Cain, a couple were fined for making an unnecessary journey to Scarborough.

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

Chief Constable Nick Adderley of Northamptonshire Police has publicly stated in this interview, that the police will be “honing in” on those like Chief Constable Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Cain who do not follow the lockdown rules. He emphasises that, under the new legislation, they can be fined or arrested and are also subject to arrest under existing anti-social and public order legislation.

It is completely unacceptable for Chief Police Officers to place themselves above the law and put lives at risk as a result, whilst authorising the arrest of members of the public who indulge in similar behaviour.

We are all equal under the law. This is clearly an issue of legitimate public concern. The issues are described perfectly by Piers Morgan in this interview with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon following her decision to sack Dr Calderwood here.

Formal complaint issued

To try and ensure that these issues are fully exposed and both officers stop endangering lives, I have now made a formal complaint to the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire Mrs Julia Mulligan.

Based on past experience of Mrs Mulligan, I have no doubt that this complaint will be ignored and NYP Chief Officers will be allowed to do whatever they please, as they have always done. But I will report back to our readers on her response and the outcome in due course.

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 police advice on the Coronavirus pandemic.

The lockdown rules are explained in this excellent article from the BBC, here.

Latest advice from NYP here.

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

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

Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan has been quoted as stating publicly:

“For me, it’s simple – anyone can catch this brutal disease, and anyone can spread it, so those who do not follow the rules are putting themselves and others at risk. We must ensure the huge effort put in by the many who are selflessly complying is not undone by the dangerous few who aren’t.”

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 Walker also stated, in a Joint Statement with North Yorkshire County Council CEO Mr Richard Flinton:

“Every single one of us has a crucial part to play and right now despite the improving weather, the most important thing we can do is stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS.  Do not be tempted to jump in the car and head out to beauty spots in North Yorkshire’s countryside or on the coast.  This is not essential travel. The instruction is to exercise from your doorstep once a day and not to travel to other places for this.”

Right of Reply

I have asked Chief Constable Winward for a press comment on this article, but have not received one.

I have also asked Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Mulligan for a press statement.

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.

Comments are closed.