Thursday 18th April 2019,
North Yorks Enquirer

The Bulgarian Connection

The Bulgarian Connection

by TIM HICKS

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Introduction: An investigative oversight and an apology.

I very much regret to report to our readers a catastrophic failure in an NYE investigation.

In my article on North Yorkshire Police’s (NYP) Chief Constable Lisa Winward’s weekend soirée in the beautiful historic city of Helsinki attending her FBI National Alumni Association European Chapter conference at the expense of North Yorkshires taxpayers, I raised my fear that now she was Chief Constable, they would end up funding these weekend foreign travel junkets every year.

Little did I realise, how close to the truth I was.

It now transpires that I had completely underestimated Chief Constable Winward.

Sad to relate, an evening poring over the Chief Officers expenses on the NYP website researching another story shortly before my article The Helsinki Connection (which broke the Helsinki story) was published, revealed that these weekend reunions in lovely locations across Europe meeting with colleagues who are members of the FBI National Academy Alumni Club are an annual event and she has been attending them for some time. Possibly since she attended the FBI National Academy in 2011. It was fast approaching my 9:00pm bedtime, so finishing off my Horlicks I resolved to return to the website to do further research on my next free evening.

The fact that Chief Constable Winward had attended multiple foreign travel weekends should have been revealed by my initial investigation. So I can only apologise to our readers for this oversight. I simply did not believe that the Chief Constable would be so brazen during times of police cut backs. So I didn’t check it. Evidently I was being naïve; it appears that in North Yorkshire police cutbacks affect everyone else, not the Chief Constable.

I hope our readers will forgive me for this investigative oversight and another to be revealed later in the article. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

The NYE investigation is extended to cover all of the foreign Alumni weekends

You would think that the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police attending an international duty would be a newsworthy item on the force website. After all it reported on her training in the FBI National Academy and has covered secondments of NYP officers to the Dutch Police and other UK Police forces. However, none of Chief Constable Winward’s visits to these private Alumni events each year – at your expense – have featured anywhere in the force publicity, or on the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner’s website.

Nor has there been any justification for this lavish expenditure or the benefits to North Yorkshire Policing of the Chief Constable’s covert attendance at these meetings, or information on what she did there.

Obviously, if these had been official visits on police duties, they would have been fully covered.

Other Chief Constables do not feel the need to attend, presumably because they receive perfectly adequate training through the College of Policing and the Police Staff College at Bramshill.

The annual Alumni events appear to have been undertaken covertly in conditions of perfect secrecy. Presumably because they are obviously private visits, not duty, to prevent anyone asking embarrassing questions like:

  • How can the Chief Constable expend funds on travel to foreign countries when the force can’t afford to employ enough Police Constables?”
  • How is this compatible with the code of ethics requirement for tranparent and open policing?”
  • “What is the benefit to policing in North Yorkshire, of the Chief Constable going to Helsinki for four days?”
  • “Why should sixty eight homes in North Yorkshire have to pay their precept to pay for the Chief Constable’s annual foreign travel weekends?”

A short history of NYP Chief Officers abusing training allowances and then trying to cover it up.

Nigel Ward’s article from the 12th of April 2012 Maxwell’s Silver covered the fallout arising from the retirement of Deputy Chief Constable Adam Briggs, which followed the sacking of Chief Constable Graham Maxwell.

“DCC BRIGGS, readers may remember, had been embroiled in a series of inquiries of wrong-doing – notably: 

    • charges of nepotism levelled against him and his boss, Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell
    • possession of ‘inappropriate computer material’

 In February 2012 it emerged that Deputy Chief Constable Adam BRIGGS had been given a tax free ‘personal development allowance’ of £31,647.06, for which he has refused to account, and consequently no-one knows where the money went. 

And now it emerges that Chief Constable Grahame MAXWELL is facing fresh accusations – for the very same offence that was committed by Briggs. It appears, from open sources, that £50,000 was paid to the Chief Constable and he has not, as yet, accounted for £37,908.81 of these ‘expenses’ payments, which have apparently ‘disappeared’ – in exactly the same way as £43,397,06 of DCC Briggs’ expenses disappeared.” 

On the 8th of June 2012, I covered the story of Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell’s bogus training allowances, his foreign travel expenses and refusal to publish his expenses in my article Chief Officer corruption in North Yorkshire Police: 

“Chief Constable Maxwell also received the same slush fund allowance as Deputy Chief Constable Briggs and like DCC Briggs, has apparently not accounted for an estimated £50,000 of expenditure paid to him.

Scrutiny of his expenses shows that Chief Constable Maxwell has charged attendance at conferences and seminars in the UK, Amsterdam, Bahrain, Estonia and Copenhagen which should have been charged to his Development allowance, but was paid additionally as expenses of an additional £7,716.01.

The Chief Constable charged private expenditure to the Police for a visit to the Edinburgh Tattoo.

Unlike every other Chief Officer of North Yorkshire Police, Chief Constable Maxwell has not published his expenses since July 2010”

This was subsequently picked up in the national press and both Maxwell and Briggs were later asked to re-pay the allowances (Daily Mail article from November 2013 here). This occurred only because of media scrutiny and criticism, not through oversight by the then North Yorkshire Police Authority.

In immediate retaliation for my article, on the 21st of June 2012 I received a letter threatening me with arrest for harassment from Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson. Harassment investigations are normally handled by a Uniform Branch Constable, but this one was being handled at the highest levels in the force.

I was interviewed under caution for five hours by two of the most experienced detectives in the force at Fulford Road Police Station in July 2012, which was at that time commanded by the then Superintendent Lisa Winward (now the Chief Constable). During the interrogation, I was questioned about the above article and accused of having “damaged North Yorkshire Police”. At the end of the interrogation, I was given a letter from Pearson demanding that I remove all of my articles from the internet – including the one revealing the £50,000 of training allowances for the Chief Constable – on the grounds that North Yorkshire Police had determined they were “misleading”. Although in fact the article was entirely accurate.

I subsequently received a letter from Chief Constable Tim Madgwick threatening me with arrest if I continued to write on North Yorkshire Police operations and business. Needless to say no evidence of any criminal offence appeared and I was released without charge.

Both the articles are well worth re-reading. They show the lengths that North Yorkshire Police were prepared to go to supress media comment on financial misconduct by Chief Officers with a cover up and that seven years on, nothing has changed. Chief Officers are still siphoning off funds and are not under adequate supervision by the Office of the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner, which took over from the former Police Authority.

Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell & Deputy Chief Constable Adam Briggs

Asked to pay back £100,000 of bogus training allowances siphoned off from NYP funds.

PFCC Mulligan responds to my email asking for Chief Constable Winward to pay back the costs of her Helsinki weekend.

Being concerned that this was not an appropriate use of taxpayers money I wrote to Police Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) Julia Mulligan asking her to intervene and address the Chief Constable’s spending (Extract):

Dear Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Mulligan,

Open Letter concerning Chief Constable Winward charging the cost of her FBI reunion in Helsinki to North Yorkshire Police

Further to my article below, I write concerning Chief Constables Winward charging her membership of the FBI National Academy Alumni and her visit to Helsinki to attend an FBI reunion to North Yorkshire Police.  

http://nyenquirer.uk/the-helsinki-connection/

I feel sure you would agree that in these austere times, it is essential that North Yorkshire Police draws a line under its history of past excesses and abuses by Chief Police Officers described in my article. These abuses have gone on for too long and have cost the taxpayers of North Yorkshire hundreds of thousands of pounds in the time I have been covering North Yorkshire Police.  

The furore over Chief Constable Sean Price’s Estonia conference demonstrates public resistance to foreign travel for vague, undefined training that is not relevant to their role.  

I believe it is important that the Chief Constable sets a personal example of commitment to value for money, integrity, stringent financial control and financial probity. Particularly as you are now trying to obtain a major increase in the Community Charge to finance policing in North Yorkshire. It seems wrong to me that Chief Constable Winward is asking for an increase of £30.00 per household in North Yorkshire, while spending over £2,000 a year on foreign trips. Put another way, sixty eight homes in North Yorkshire will have increased taxation, to pay for the Chief Constable’s annual alumni reunions.

On this basis, I would be grateful if you would: 

    • Prohibit any further attendance at FBINAA events at the taxpayers’ expense. This will still leave Chief Constable Winward free to attend these events at her own expense.
    • Prohibit any further settlement of Chief Constable Winward’s FBINAA membership on the grounds that this is private expenditure which has no relevance to Chief Constable Winward’s duties.
    • Ask Chief Constable Winward to refund the £17.99 membership fee for the FBI National Academy Alumni and the costs of her attendance at the FBI National Academy Alumni Conference including travel. (This is entirely consistent with the action you took against Chief Constable Maxwell and Deputy Chief Constable Briggs, who received £100,000 in training allowances that they were not able to justify).
    • Order Chief Constable Winward to put the duty time spent on the FBI National Academy Alumni Conference as leave and deduct it from her 2019 holiday allowance.
    • Reform the governance over training for Chief Officers to prevent any future abuses. Specifically, please ensure there is a formal training plan for all Chief Officers, which specifies their training needs. This will ensure that all training courses booked are valid and address the training needs identified in the training plan. It will also secure tight financial control over training, that value for money is obtained and that training is relevant to the needs of policing in North Yorkshire.
    • Direct that henceforth all training courses are paid for through the training budget and are subject to the governance and supervision, not slipped through via personal expenses claims. These measures are normal in large organisations in the public sector and there is no reason why they cannot be adopted in North Yorkshire Police, to uphold financial control over training, value for money and efficiency generally.

I believe that only the highest standards of financial control, openness and accountability are acceptable over public funds. Secrecy around the Chief Constable’s expenses and how much time she spends on leave each year are unacceptable. 

I have written to Chief Constable Winward on this matter, but she has chosen not to comment as yet. 

I hope this is helpful and will lead to an improvement in financial control in North Yorkshire Police. 

I look forward to your response in due course, which I would wish to publish. 

Kind regards, 

Tim Hicks

In response to my e mail below I had an e mail from the Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire Will Naylor, written on behalf of PFCC Julia Mulligan indicating she would not be commenting on the issue. Essentially the same response that the former North Yorkshire Police Authority took when Deputy Chief Constable Briggs and Chief Constable Maxwell’s abuse of training allowances was exposed.

That all seems very strange to me, given that she has a duty to hold NYP to account. Could it be that my questions have hit a nerve and the PFCC is unable to justify the expenditure, but terrified of asking Chief Constable Winward to repay the money?

How much will Chief Constable Alumni weekends cost the North Yorkshire taxpayer?

I don’t know where all the weekend conferences took place, how many past conferences the Chief Constable attended between 2011 and 2017 and cannot assess how much has been spent on them in total. The FBI’s security is pretty good, so I cannot trace anything on the internet either, although I was able to partially breach it and ascertain the details of the forthcoming 2019 conference.

On the basis that the cost to the North Yorkshire taxpayer of the Helsinki conference was 2,059.31, assuming the Chief Constable attended every conference since she attended the FBI National Academy in 2011, I estimate the costs already incurred between 2011 and 2018 to be roughly between £10,0000 and £15,000. Assuming Chief Constable Winward is in role for five years or more and attends each annual conference then the actual and projected cost until her retirement will probably be over £20,000.

Leadership by example and the ethical dimension

What is the Chief Constable’s justification for £20,000+ of expenditure? I’m afraid I can’t answer that question.

There is nothing about it on the force and PFCC websites. Neither the Chief Constable or the PFCC will respond to my enquiries, or justify it publicly, although they both have a duty to do so. I can only conclude they can’t justify the expenditure and are both maintaining their right to silence, hoping the issue will go away.

That leads to another issue. The ethics of policing.

Chief Constable Lisa Winward

The College of Policing Code of Ethics (here) which all police officers are required to abide by, requires policing to be open and transparent:

Principles of policing 

Openness

You are open and transparent in your actions and decisions.

The code of ethics also has additional requirements for police officers who are in leadership roles: 

1.4.4. All police personnel in leadership roles are critical role models. The right leadership will encourage ethical behaviour.

1.4.5. As someone in a police leadership role you will:

      • take personal responsibility for promoting and reinforcing the principles and standards set out in this Code of Ethics.”

There is no higher leadership role as a figurehead for the force and an example of how police officers should behave than the Chief Constable.

How can Chief Constable Winward’s conduct in refusing to respond to media enquiries, contravening force policy to supress information about her covert weekends in exotic foreign locations on the pretext of attending training courses of dubious relevance to her role as a Chief Constable in North Yorkshire, be compatible with the code of ethics?

Particularly at a time when we were told that over this period, North Yorkshire Police was in a financial crisis, has had to release police officers and civilian staff, and put the council tax precept up to maintain the current level of policing. Some of which is being spent secretly on unjustifiable foreign travel for at least one Chief Officer.

At the end of the day it does not matter how much was spent. In this context it is the secretive way the Chief Constable has conducted themselves that is important. It is difficult to see how this can be compliant with the code of ethics and therefore it is unacceptable.

It appears to me that Chief Constable Winward has not met the standards of conduct required by the College of Policing. I could be wrong on this and I can only hope that Chief Constable Winward or PFCC Mulligan will respond with a justification and full rebuttal to this article. Should this happen, I will do everything in my power to ensure her response and a suitable apology is published in full.

But as it currently stands Chief Constable Winward appears to have abused her position and the public’s trust.

This year’s conference is scheduled to take place at Sofia in Bulgaria. A very beautiful and historic city on the River Danube, pictured above with the sun rising over its beautiful and historic buildings. The FBI National Academy Alumni European Chapter description of the conference location states: 

“Surrounded by sprawling parkland, Sofia, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Bulgaria, lies at the foot of the popular ski mountain, Vitosha.

How wonderful! Bottoms up!

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