Tim Hicks reports on a major success for North Yorkshire Police (NYP) in combatting the scourge of drugs by arresting and convicting a gang of drug dealers based in Barrowcliff, Scarborough, who exploited children.
This article includes important crime prevention advice for parents, neighbours and carers, on how to protect the elderly and children from exploitation by drug dealers.
He also covers the latest developments in our very popular campaign to identify and prosecute police officers that breach the coronavirus campaign, standards of turnout amongst NYP officers and the sad case of former Scarborough PC Paul Duffield.
This represents a new style of reporting for the NYE, being more community-based covering multiple local issues.
Community News: Drugs Raid in Scarborough
by TIM HICKS
During the NYE’s Election Special coverage of the elections for the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner (PFCC) for North Yorkshire, I interviewed three of the candidates to be PFCC. They all emphasised how concerned they were about the impact of drugs on our communities. Particularly the effect it has on young people.
The new PFCC Philip Allott pledged during his election campaign:
“Drug dealers have no place in North Yorkshire, and I will work with other police forces and partnerships to capture those responsible for drug dealing and lock them up. I will make tackling county lines drug dealers my top priority. These blight our communities and exploit vulnerable young people. This will be done by undertaking a more collaborative approach by working with neighbouring forces and other agencies such as social services.”
PFCC Philip Allott: Targeting drug dealers is his top priority
I am therefore delighted to report a major success for Scarborough detectives, who have broken up of a gang of drug dealers based in Barrowcliff. Detective Constable (DC) Darrel Temple, of Scarborough CID led the investigation confirmed that the gang were actively involved in the onward supply of heroin and crack cocaine in Scarborough over a significant period of time. Despicably they were exploiting impressionable children from the local area in drug dealing activity by getting them to top up deal phones and act as street runners.
NYP has released a media statement on this, which I cannot improve upon and which is therefore reproduced below. It is a well-worded statement that informs the public on police operations to combat the scourge of drug use. However, in my opinion, the key information released in the statement is not about the arrest and conviction of five local men.
Inevitably, the concern must be that other dealers will try to expand their criminal empires by filling the void left in Scarborough by the elimination of the Barrowcliff gang. What makes this a classic example of good police communications is the way in which the NYP Corporate Communications Team is trying to address this longer term issue.
They have exploited Scarborough CID’s success by using it as an opportunity to a) give parents, neighbours and carers, the information they need to protect children and the elderly, and b) to appeal for information on drug dealing, so the police can protect vulnerable people from drug gangs. To quote DC Temple:
“We’ll continue to disrupt the supply of drugs in the town and bring individuals to justice who bring misery to the people of Scarborough. Information from members of the public is vital and we urge anyone with information about drug dealing, or if you suspect someone is being exploited, to contact the police or Crimestoppers if you wish to remain anonymous.”
This will I hope limit the damage these vile creatures can do to our community and make it more difficult for another gang to establish itself in Scarborough.
To illustrate the point, this BBC Article describes how four twelve- and thirteen-year-old schoolchildren were rushed to hospital having poisoned themselves on cannabis sweets.
So do please read the crime prevention advice at the end of the statement, particularly if you are a parent or the neighbour of an elderly person.
I will now report on two successes and a failure for the NYE:
Harrogate Police: Observing the Coronavirus Regulations
Regular readers will know that following multiple examples of NYP Officers blatantly ignoring the Coronavirus Regulations, the NYE ran a series of appeals for information for photographs of Police Officers breaching the Coronavirus Regulations.
This campaign resulted in allegations that the Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable, Gold Commander for NYP’s response to the Coronavirus emergency, four inspectors, two sergeants, three motorcycle policemen from Cleveland Police, two Officers photographed asleep and unmasked in a layby at night, two PCs patrolling in Clifton Moor unmasked (see below) and multiple police officers at Force Headquarters, Scarborough, Filey and Fulford Road Police Station have allegedly contravened the Coronavirus lockdown regulations at various times and places.
So far as I can tell, NYP is the worst force in the country for breaches of the Coronavirus Regulations by a long, long, way.
Typically, Chief Constable Winward refused to take any action and ignored a complaint that I submitted about this particular example of crime and anti-social behaviour that was routinely being committed by herself and her Officers. In my view, this is probably why the standards of compliance with the regulations by officers of NYP are so poor, when compared to other forces.
The NYE is aware that public opinion is strongly opposed to Police Officers ignoring the regulations and supportive of the stance taken by the NYE. We are all equal under the law. There cannot be one law for the Police and one for the rest of us. The public mood was perfectly summed up by Alison Hume, the Labour Party candidate to be PFCC in the recent elections:
“During the pandemic we have all had a hard time following all the new rules. North Yorkshire Police are no different and if police officers contravene the rules they should be fined, in line with other police forces.”
The nature of police duties brings the police into close contact with the public and makes them particularly vulnerable to infection. According to this November BBC article, eight-hundred-and-forty-nine Police Officers have tested positive for coronavirus over twenty-four forces. To my knowledge, five Metropolitan, one British Transport Police and one Greater Manchester Police Officer have died from coronavirus.
The NYE’s concern was that the refusal of NYP officers to follow the Coronavirus regulations, coupled with the Chief Constable’s decision not to prosecute them had given rise to a culture of impunity amongst some officers. This constituted a major ongoing major threat to the health of police officers and the public.
Hence the need for the NYE’s campaign of “name and shame” by publishing social media posts, video clips and photographs of police officers breaching the regulations.
The NYE’s campaign seems to have been successful. Reports to the NYE of NYP officers breaching the regulations have now stopped. As an example, this video by a YouTube blogger shows an interaction with three officers at Harrogate Police Station. All three of whom were properly masked.
This is a big improvement. This video by a YouTube blogger shows masked and unmasked staff sharing an office at NYP Force Headquarters shows an inspector and two constables not maintaining social distancing inside Force headquarters, one of whom is not masked. This video also by a YouTube blogger taken at Fulford Road Police Station, York also shows police officers and members of police staff unmasked and ignoring social distancing.
This represents a major success for the NYE and for responsible investigative journalism. Our campaign has held the police to account and reasserted service discipline and subordination to the law in NYP. This is a remarkable achievement despite the efforts of the Chief Constable to prevent it. More importantly it may also have prevented a serious outbreak of COVID-19 amongst police officers and saved lives.
The NYE is still keeping up the pressure on this matter. I raised it with all three of the candidates to be PFCC in my interviews with them and will follow up with PFCC Allott once he has taken up his appointment.
In the meantime, the reward still stands. So do please keep up the pressure, to maintain the improvement in conduct amongst NYP officers. If you become aware of a public figure or police officer breaching the lockdown regulations, please photograph or video him/her and make a note of the:
- Registration no of their vehicle.
- If possible their rank and police collar numbers.
- Other circumstances.
Then inform the NYE using the firstname.lastname@example.org e mail. The NYE will pay a reward for these photographs in accordance with standard journalistic practice.
- Constables and Sergeants: £25.00
- Inspectors and above: £50.00
- Deputy Chief Constable Cain and Superintendent Walker: £75.00
- Chief Constable Winward: £100.00
Now I have to report on two failures for the NYE.
NYP and the law pertaining to public photography.
The video clips taken at Force Headquarters, Fulford Road Police Station and Harrogate Police Station come from people who call themselves “Auditors or Social Media Bloggers”. They go to places and film in public to see if they get a reaction. These video clips are typical examples of filming – in this case at Police premises – allegedly for some vague higher purpose, but in reality to provoke a confrontation with the Police.
The video taken at Harrogate mentions the case of former PC Paul Duffield. To illustrate the point, the facts of the case are that after retirement, Paul Duffield remained with North Yorkshire Police and became a civilian Firearms Enquiry Officer. He was jailed in 2019 over two frauds and firearms offences committed prior to April 2017. NYP statement here. Obviously a matter relating to 2017 had nothing to do with Harrogate Police Station in 2021. It was obviously being used as a pretext to turn up there and film, to cause trouble and annoyance.
Although I have used these video clips to illustrate the article for the purpose of raising awareness of an important issue in policing in North Yorkshire, I wish to make it clear that I do not agree with this type of journalism/blogging.
As you can see, at force headquarters they succeeded in provoking the police into taking unnecessary and excessive action against them. This was unacceptable, given that they were not committing an offence and were only filming in a public place.
An Inspector from West Yorkshire Police was recently prosecuted in a similar incident (video here), which illustrates the potential dangers of police use of force against people that are filming in public. (The CPS took over the prosecution and refused to offer any evidence on this occasion). The NYE is read by many officers in NYP. So to prevent this type of incident the NYE has run articles on the law pertaining to public photography.
The excessive response at Force Headquarters would I believe have been avoided, if the officers concerned had the benefit of guidance in the form of a policy on being filmed in public.
I wrote to Chief Constable Winward asking her to adopt a force policy for interactions with members of the public that were filming the police. This seemed to me to be an essential requirement given the huge increase in video filming on mobile ‘phones and the willingness of the public to film interaction with the police. However, sad to relate, she refused to do this, or to adopt the Metropolitan Police policy on filming in public.
Happily wiser councils prevailed. The National Police Chiefs Council has issued a policy on police interaction with “Auditors/Social Media Bloggers”. It can be read here. The guidance was implemented because of the increasing number of people that are filming the police and is required to be circulated to all police officers, as I originally suggested to Chief Constable Winward.
The guidance emphasises the importance of remaining calm and professional when interacting with people that are filming them. I thought the officers at Fulford Road and Harrogate were a good example of this. Particularly when compared to their colleagues at Force Headquarters, who were obviously not compliant with the NPCC guidance.
Unfortunately the female officer at Harrogate demanded that the photographer stop filming. She has no power to do this and had no valid reason to. After all, the police have nothing to fear from being filmed in public, if they are behaving lawfully.
It is my hope that the NYE’s coverage of this issue will improve knowledge on this topic amongst officers of NYP, preventing further incidents.
This video gives police guidance on the law and photographers. The College of Policing guidance on media relations is here. The Metropolitan Police force policy on police powers and photography is here. It is a very good summary of the law on public filming and well worth reading if you are a police officer, journalist or someone that videos and/or photographs in public. It states:
“Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.
It would ordinarily be unlawful to use section 58A [of the Terrorism Act 2000] to arrest people photographing police officers in the course of normal policing activities, including protests because there would not normally be grounds for suspecting that the photographs were being taken to provide assistance to a terrorist. An arrest would only be lawful if an arresting officer had a reasonable suspicion that the photographs were being taken in order to provide practical assistance to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
There is nothing preventing officers asking questions of an individual who appears to be taking photographs of someone who is or has been a member of Her Majesty’s Forces (HMF), Intelligence Services or a constable so long as this is being done for a lawful purpose and is not being done in a way that prevents, dissuades or inhibits the individual from doing something which is not unlawful.”
Standards of dress and turnout of NYP officers
Sad to relate, another aspect of the NYE’s campaign to improve standards of turnout by NYP Officers is failing. All three of the Officers that featured in the Harrogate video clip were scruffily dressed without uniform caps.
A similar example of the shocking standards of turnout tolerated in NYP is below.
The Clifton Moor Commandos
Uniform cap not worn, or worn on the back of the head, clutching a cup of coffee, unmasked and not observing social distancing with themselves or members of the public.
This would never be allowed in the Metropolitan Police, which is routinely involved in public duties and more visible to the media and the public, so they therefore maintain a high standard of turnout.
The people of North Yorkshire are entitled to expect that their police officers are smartly turned out at all times. The NYE will continue to cover this issue.
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PFCC Elections: After Action Report