Monday 24th January 2022,
North Yorks Enquirer

Omicron: NYP placed under Special Measures

Omicron: NYP placed under Special Measures

by TIM HICKS

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Introduction

Regular readers of the NYE will know that for some time our readers have been reporting breaches of the coronavirus by police officers to the NYE.

This has been reported to the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police (NYP) Lisa Winward by the NYE.

As one would expect from someone with a background in Major Crime, Specialist Operations, Professional Standards, Criminal Justice and Force Intelligence, Chief Constable Lisa Winward’s response was immediate, tough and decisive. She proscribed me as an unreasonable complainant, ignored all the evidence and ordered that the allegations made by the NYE’s readership against herself and her officers were not investigated.

A classic knee-jerk ‘attack the whistle-blower’ response.

Dual standards of policing in North Yorkshire

Compare this to the way these situations are dealt with in other Forces.

As an example, when officers from the Metropolitan Police were photographed by a passer-by breaching the regulations by eating together in a café (see below).

The response of the Met was swift, impartial and effective:

Nine Metropolitan Police officers have been fined for breaching Covid-19 legislation while on duty. 

Photos emerged online earlier this month which appeared to show a group of uniformed officers from the South East Basic Command Unit (BCU) dining in a local café.

Following an investigation, it was determined that the officers involved should be issued with fixed penalty notices to the value of £200 each.

Chief Superintendent Rob Atkin, South East BCU Commander, said: 

“Police officers are tasked with enforcing the legislation that has been introduced to stop the spread of the virus and the public rightly expect that they will set an example through their own actions.

“It is disappointing that on this occasion, these officers have fallen short of that expectation. It is right that they will pay a financial penalty and that they will be asked to reflect on their choices.” 

This is the same punishment that would have been meted out if they had been members of the public. In my opinion, an appropriate and just outcome, that enforced the law without fear or favour and maintained public confidence in the Police. This commendable response no doubt also deterred other Police Officers from breaching the lockdown regulations, thereby protecting their colleagues and members of the public from being infected by them.

Please note that the Met took this action even though no complaint had been made by a member of the public.

The question has to be asked, why can’t the people of North Yorkshire have the same standards of openness, discipline, integrity and accountability from North Yorkshire Police that the people of London have from the Met?

Holding the Police to account in North Yorkshire

To answer that question, I wrote to Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire (PFCCNY) Mrs Zoë Metcalfe, who is the person democratically elected to hold North Yorkshire police to account:

Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe

Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire,

12 Granby Road,

Harrogate,

North Yorkshire,

HG1 4ST 

Dear Commissioner Metcalfe,

OPEN LETTER RE: CHIEF CONTABLE’S POLICY OF EXEMPTING POLICE OFFICERS FROM PROSECUTION FOR BREACHES OF THE CORONAVIRUS REGULATIONS

I write concerning Chief Constable Winward’s policy of not investigating allegations of breaches of the Coronavirus regulations by herself and officers of her force.

For some time members of the public have been coming forward to the NYE with witness accounts and photographs of police officers and members of police staff as potentially/apparently breaching the lockdown regulations at Force Headquarters, Scarborough, Filey, Skipton, Whitby and Fulford Road Police Stations, Scalby Mills and the Clifton Moor Shopping Centre. These officers included Chief Constable Winward, Deputy Chief Constable Cain, five inspectors, two sergeants, three motorcycle policemen from Cleveland Police and two officers asleep in a layby unmasked. 

I have reported this to Chief Constable Winward, but other than proscribing me as an unreasonable complainant, she took no action. As a result neither Chief Constable Winward nor any other officer of NYP has had the allegations made by the NYE’s readership investigated and no action has been taken against anyone. The situation is set out in detail in my article “Allegra and the Chief” below.

http://nyenquirer.uk/allegra-chief/

Recently, Mrs Allegra Stratton and the Conservative Chair of the Police and Crime Committee for London Mr Shaun Bailey have resigned, and Mr Simon Case recused himself from the Stratton investigation, over allegations of breaching the Covid Regulations.

I consider it is essential that people in authority and influence responsible for implementing regulations on the rest of us set an example and obey the rules. If they do not, particularly if they are police officers, I consider they should be formally and openly investigated and if the allegations are upheld the officers involved should be charged and fined the same as everyone else. 

This is also the policy of your party. Referring to Mr Bailey, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed:

It is unacceptable for people to be breaking the rules”.

You cannot have one law for the police and one for everyone else.

On every other occasion that I am aware of when police officers from other forces have been accused of contravening the regulations, the force concerned has responded openly, impartially and professionally. However, in North Yorkshire Police under the leadership of Chief Constable Winward, no one has resigned, apologised or faced disciplinary action and none of the allegations have even been investigated.

The only action taken by Chief Constable Winward was to proscribe me as an unreasonable complainant for legitimately criticising her force in the public interest.

Acting in your role of holding the police to account, I would ask that you:

    1. Ask another force to investigate the allegations made in my complaint.
    1. Direct Chief Constable Winward to immediately abandon her policy of exempting herself and her officers from prosecution for breaches of the Coronavirus regulations.

This is not about an operational police matter, it is about the Chief Constable following an unlawful and corrupt policy, which endangers the lives of her officers and the public, and brings the service into disrepute. It only takes one police officer to be infected and he or she can infect an entire station and members of the public they come into contact with. It is essential in my opinion that police officers are deterred from breaching the coronavirus regulations by the knowledge that if they do, they will be prosecuted for it the same as everyone else.  

At present the opposite is true. Officers of North Yorkshire Police know that no action will be taken. Hence the reason I believe that there are so many incidents involving officers of North Yorkshire Police. More it appears than any other force and at a much higher level of seniority. 

I would ask for a response by close of play on Monday the 20th of December, so I can meet a publication deadline. 

Yours sincerely,

Tim Hicks

Community Journalist (Proscribed)

NUJ Membership Number WO15306

To date (22nd December), I have received no response. If I do receive a response, I will of course publish it.

NYP compared to the Met

In London, even the Prime Minister’s office is being investigated for breaches of the Covid regulations.

NYP is arguably the worst performing Force for breaches of the Covid regulations in the country, both for the numbers of breaches and the seniority of the officer’s involved. Yet in North Yorkshire the Chief Constable has simply granted the Force immunity from prosecution for Covid breaches and the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner who is supposed to hold her to account has acquiesced to this.

Returning to the question I posed earlier “why can’t the people of North Yorkshire have the same standards of openness, discipline, integrity and accountability from North Yorkshire Police that the people of London have from the Met?”. The answer seems to me to be that:

  • The Metropolitan Police is the leading UK force and its Chief Officers are the best available from the Police Service. Consequently it is led by Chief Police Officers who set very high standards, both for themselves and for those they command.
  • The Metropolitan Police is scrutinised by the Mayor’s Office, which takes its role seriously and is therefore held to account more effectively. In North Yorkshire the Police,Fire & Crime Commissioner is largely ineffective and backs up the Chief Constable no matter what.
  • The national media exercises more scrutiny of the Metropolitan Police because it is London based and because of its higher national profile. In North Yorkshire only the NYE holds the Police and the Commissioner to account.
  • Those officials charged with oversight of the Met are also under much greater media scrutiny and cannot brush allegations of police misconduct underneath force headquarters, as Commissioner Metcalfe has done.

This has resulted in a situation where North Yorkshire taxpayers spend millions of pounds on four Chief Police Officers who are supposed to set high standards, maintain discipline and set an example – but don’t; a NYP Professional Standards Department that is supposed to investigate complaints against Police Officers but is ordered not to and a Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner who is supposed to hold the Police to account – but does not.

All of these people receive an awful lot of tax payers’ money to ensure that NYP is an efficient Force. Commissioner Metcalfe for instance currently receives a £74,000 salary for being the Commissioner, allowances for simultaneously being a Councillor for North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council, and a salary from her employment as a Project Manager.

It is no wonder she doesn’t have time to hold the Police to account or respond to the electorate’s concerns about the pandemic.

NYE places North Yorkshire Police under ‘Special Measures

Police Officers that do not take rigorous precautions risk infecting members of the public, their families and everyone at their station. This is particularly true with the Omicron variant.

To illustrate the point, please consider the case of a very fine and brave Police Officer – Chief Superintendent Phil Dolby of the West Midlands Police, who nearly died from a Covid infection. Chief Superintendent Dolby is pictured in our lead illustration when he was not expected to survive. He has been outspoken against those idiots that breach the lockdown regulations by making unnecessary journeys and not observing the social distancing rules – exactly the same behaviour Officers of North Yorkshire Police have been indulging in with impunity. BBC article here.

When Police Officers endanger the lives of their colleagues and members of the public by ignoring the lockdown regulations, the NYE’s duty as journalists is to draw attention to this and to hold them to account. Under normal circumstances, having publicised a breach of the regulations, the NYE would be content to let the normal police disciplinary processes to take over, as they do with the Met and every other police force in the UK, except NYP.

Unfortunately, Chief Constable Winward’s policy of ignoring breaches of the lockdown regulations by her officers means that the situation of indiscipline with NYP is now so concerning, that the NYE feels it has no choice but to put NYP under special measures.

Accordingly the NYE is now offering a reward for photographs of officers from North Yorkshire Police caught breaching the regulations. The NYE has taken this step so the photographs can be published, to deter NYP officers from further breaches, before they kill someone.

The NYE believes that this reflects public outrage and concern over this issue, is in the public interest, and particularly the best interests of our police officers.

Note from the Editor: Chief Superintendent Phil Dolby

The NYE would not normally publish a photograph of a critically ill hospital patient. However, this photograph has been issued with the permission of Chief Superintendent Dolby and has been published for the purpose of saving life. Under these circumstances the NYE has therefore waived its normal policy.

The NYE considers that Chief Superintendent Dolby has been very brave and public spirited in speaking out. On behalf of everyone at the NYE and our readers, we wish him a speedy recovery and a happy Christmas with his family.

NYE Appeal for Information

If you become aware of a public figure or police officer breaching the lockdown regulations, please photograph or video him or her and make a note of the:

  • Date.
  • Time.
  • Location.
  • Registration No.of vehicle.
  • If possible,their rank and Police collar numbers.
  • Other circumstances.

Then inform the NYE using the news@nyenquirer.uk email.

The NYE will pay a reward of £100.00 for each set of images in accordance with standard journalistic practice.

Police Officers are authority figures and resent being confronted with their own misconduct. This video here shows a member of the public confronting police officers that were blatantly breaching the coronavirus regulations. Incredibly they admitted this, became incensed that someone had the nerve to point out their misconduct, verbally abused him, then closed up to him without face masks.

So if you do photograph a Police Officer(s) breaching the regulations, we think it may be unwise to say they have been photographed and you are claiming the NYE reward on them.

Please just send the information to the NYE at the above email address.

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