Chief Officer Corruption In North Yorkshire Police
- – TIM HICKS comments on developments in the public scrutiny of North Yorkshire Police.
I have been following the “In My View” column by Nigel Ward with great interest. He certainly appears to me to be an absolutely fearless investigative journalist. However I was shocked by his recent revelations, the latest in a series of corruption scandals that have rocked the British Police Service which appear to be focused on three forces, the Metropolitan Police, North Yorkshire and Cleveland. The first named has responsibility for the capital and is subject to entirely different factors to the county forces, which have much better records than the Met in the suppression of corrupt Police Officers. Further, the allegations of corruption in North Yorkshire and Cleveland are at the Police Authority and Chief Police Officer level, a situation unheard of in British Policing. So why should this be so?
Both forces and both Police Authorities have similar cultures and exchange Chief Officers. The current Chief Executive of Cleveland Police Authority is Stuart Pudney, formerly Deputy Chief Executive of the North Yorkshire Police Authority, Deputy Chief Constable Briggs and Deputy Chief Constable Cross have all served in Cleveland. Ignoring the situation in Cleveland, where the Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and force solicitor have been arrested and the Chairman of the Police Authority has resigned, because it is sub-judice; let us focus on the other County Force publicly acknowledged as having a serious senior level corruption problem, which is North Yorkshire Police.
Examination of the recent cases of misconduct by North Yorkshire Chief Police Officers will, I submit, reveal the answer to this question.
Former Deputy Chief Constable Adam Briggs
Deputy Chief Constable Briggs was found guilty of gross misconduct for dishonestly trying to obtain a pecuniary advantage by having a relative appointed to a job in North Yorkshire Police. The definition of ‘Gross Misconduct’ is an act of misconduct so grave as to justify the immediate summary dismissal of the employee, without notice. (In a similar case that I encountered, in a Bank, the Director concerned was told to clear his desk and he was marched out). However, the Police Authority protected DCC Briggs was not dismissed from his post.
It then became clear that DCC Briggs had received £31,647.06 of expense payments, paid though an unauditable development allowance and which was illegally removed from the supervision of the Audit Commission (and run as a ‘slush fund’), which he could not account for. In addition, an further £11,750 of expenses payments that he had not yet received had been “authorised” for payment to him, fraudulently, by Chief Constable Maxwell’s PA, a person not empowered to authorise any payment.
Initially, the Police Authority tried to protect him and declined to investigate the allegations. However, so serious were the allegations that, unusually, the IPCC took the investigation over and started to investigate DCC Briggs again. When it became obvious that the IPCC investigation would censure DCC Briggs for blatant misconduct, the Police Authority again protected him and retired him with immediate effect to prevent him being convicted of misconduct.
Throughout the investigation, DCC Briggs maintained his right to silence and refused to co-operate with the investigation. In the words of IPCC Commissioner Long:
“It is utterly unacceptable that more than £30,000 of public funds can be handed to an officer without any means to audit how that money is used. Although the police authority stipulated what the money was to be used for, they did not check. Although Mr Briggs has retired, one would think he would want to take an opportunity to explain what he did with the money and why he claimed a further £11,750 from the public purse. I find his decision not to assist our investigation or answer our questions disappointing. It leaves us with an expenses claim that does not appear to withstand scrutiny and the actions of a senior police officer that do not appear justifiable. The police authority’s remit is to scrutinise the expenditure of a police force and hold the senior officers to account. It is utterly unacceptable therefore that more than £30,000 of public funds can be handed to an officer without any means to audit how that money is used.”
Again, I have encountered a similar case in a transport company where the employee concerned lost his job, but because DCC Briggs was a Chief Police Officer he was very nicely protected by the Police Authority, from any consequences of what is clearly a blatant fraud on the taxpayers of North Yorkshire, and retired early.
Throughout the investigation DCC Briggs refused to co-operate, respond to questions on his allowances or to account for his expenditure or provide receipts.
Former Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell
Chief Constable Maxwell was found guilty of Gross Misconduct for dishonestly trying to obtain a pecuniary advantage by having a relative appointed to a job in North Yorkshire Police and of assisting DCC Briggs to do the same. The definition of Gross Misconduct is an act of misconduct so grave as to justify the summary dismissal of the employee; in any other organisation, they would both have been sacked and walked off the premises. However the Police Authority supported him, he was protected from any consequence for his conduct, kept his job and walked off with a £250,000 payoff.
In June 2011, it emerged that the cost of investigating the above allegations against Chief Constable Maxwell was £218,456 on top of £100,000 spent by the IPCC. Mr Julian Smith, the Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon, said:
“Had the chief constable admitted his guilt late last year, instead of at the very last minute, hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money could have been saved on legal costs. It is deeply regrettable that during challenging financial times, the actions of the county’s leading police officer should have cost the police authority so much. These figures are a further illustration of why Mr Maxwell no longer has the confidence of many of his officers or communities in North Yorkshire.”
Chief Constable Maxwell subsequently survived a vote of no confidence, by North Yorkshire County Council because he was supported by County Councillors who were members of the Police Authority.
The allegations of misconduct narrated above are well known in the public domain. However, senior Officer Expenses are required to be published in full on the North Yorkshire Police Website and my investigation into Chief Officer corruption has revealed further cause for concern:
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
Chief Constable Tim Madgwick
Chief Constable Madgwick’s biography lists membership of the Special Olympics Group Board as a personal hobby/interest. He is not listed as an officer of the SOGB on their website and has no entitlement to reimbursement of this money from the charity, it relates to his personal hobby and it has nothing to do with his work as a police officer with North Yorkshire Police. So why is he charging this purely personal expenditure to the North Yorkshire Police? I would submit that it is completely unacceptable for any public servant to be paid for pursuing his hobby.
His expense Information on the website is incomplete.
Deputy Chief Constable Sue Cross
On a number of occasions Deputy Chief Constable Cross has charged overnight accommodation costs for a single days duty in London and other close locations that could easily be travelled in one day without the need for a stay in an expensive hotel.
The North Yorkshire Police Authority
Chief Officers have received development allowances and healthcare allowances which are not accounted for or subject to audit. According to Mr Jeremy Holderness, Chief Executive of the Police Authority:
“Such allowances are not unfamiliar in policing, or indeed many other avenues of business, and they are seen to be quite reasonable in the circumstances of employment of senior professionals.”
Well, put simply, that is a lie. Payments to senior executives cannot be exempted from audit or accounting by law. Both Mr Holderness and the Chief Financial Officer Ms Carter had a duty to bring this to the attention of the Auditor.
The accounts state the Chief Police Officers “use vehicles provided by the force, but these are not included in benefits in kind (i.e.) taxed as they are for operational use” although these are also available for personal use. However, the accounts do not state that the operational Officers are not authorised to drive these vehicles on Police duty and therefore they are NOT available for Police use and should be taxed as a benefit in kind.
According to press reports each Chief Officer has his legal insurance paid for by the Police Authority and Chief Constable Maxwell and DCC Briggs used this insurance to pay for their defence costs in the recent disciplinary hearings. This is a private matter which should not be covered by the Police Authority and should be declared as a benefit in kind. However, the accounts do not make any reference to these payments and they have in fact been concealed.
Chief Officers have received payments for personal expenditure that should also be revealed in the accounts as taxable benefits in kind, but are not.
It appears that all of the above Chief Officers have received payments without deduction of tax for personal development and in addition for health insurance, which they do not have to account for, and that these payments are not, in fact, expenses, but effectively salary payments made gross i.e. untaxed, which is illegal. They should be declared on the tax returns (Form P11D) made by the police to HMRC, the same as everyone else. Howeve,r this has not happened. Worse, they are described in the accounts as payments for ‘personal development and healthcare’, when in fact, no one knows what the money was spent on, which is false accounting and a failure in financial control.
The Chief Constable’s PA has fraudulently authorised payments to DCC Briggs that should not have been made when she was not in fact an authorised signatory, which can only be described as a catastrophic failure of financial control and segregation of duties. Yet (predictably) she was protected and no action was taken against her although she should have been dismissed for it.
It therefore appears that Ms Carter and Mr Holderness have exceeded their authority, broken the law, indulged in false accounting and deceived the auditors, to run a tax evasion scheme for the benefit of senior officers.
Mr Maxwell, Mr Briggs, Mr Madgwick, The Finance Director of SOGB, Mr Read, Mr Holderness, Ms Drew, Ms Carter, Miss Kenyon, Mrs Cross and every member of the Police Authority have had the opportunity of responding to my allegations privately, but are all refusing to respond to correspondence and Freedom of Information requests, in exactly the same way as DCC Briggs did. They have also unlawfully refused to progress or respond on my complaints about the above matters. North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Police Authority are obviously operating an illegal, coordinated and well-organised zero-tolerance zone on questions that could be embarrassing; I can only conclude that this is also to conceal illegal actions by Chief Police Officers and members of the Police Authority. How is this compatible with an organisation that is supposed to call the police to account? If I am wrong, why will they not respond and say so. What is it they have to hide? Quite a bit, it appears.
According to documentation, Conservative County Councillor Miss Kenyon, who is Chairman of the North Yorkshire Police Authority, has been routinely committing a criminal offence and deceiving her electorate by withholding information about her business interests, to conceal the fact that she is an Officer of Belvedere Computers Inc., a bankrupt company in the United States, and a company in the UK that traded with Councils on which she sat.
I have also been investigating County Councillor Kenyon’s business activities including the Belvedere Computers fiasco. As part of my investigation I asked why County Councillor Kenyon had not registered her interest in Belvedere Computers Inc. Ms Carole Dunn (Monitoring Officer, NYCC) responded that:
“she [County Councillor Kenyon] has had no connection with Belvedere Computers Inc since November 1980 which predates her membership of the County Council. The issue of registering an interest simply would not therefore arise.”
Well, I am afraid that is a lie, too. It does not matter how long it is since County Councillor Kenyon was associated with Belvedere Computers, if indeed she still has an interest in it, then she has to declare her interest, whether it arose before she was elected or afterwards, because she and her consort are allegedly officers of a bankrupt company that has been suspended from trading but still exists as a separate legal entity.
It is also clear that Councillor Kenyon must have known that she was the Company Secretary of Dales Timber Limited and has lied to evade responsibility for illegally failing to register her interest. A situation where the monitoring officer (Ms Dunn) lies to conceal illegality and the police refuse to investigate it and use threat of arrest to prevent legitimate public questioning, simply because it involves the chairman of the police authority, is deeply concerning.
What is someone like this doing heading up a Police Authority?
For three years I have been investigating a fraud by a group of people known locally as “The Inspector Moriarty Gang”, comprising a corrupt Police Inspector (based at Fulford Road Police Station), a corrupt social-worker and a member of her own family who defrauded Mrs Barbara Hofschröer (aged eighty three) of her home in York, locked her out (thereby making her homeless), stole her possessions and tried to sell the house, fraudulently. There have been allegations in Parliament and the press of corruption in the case, and the IPCC have called for a new investigation. Yet Miss Kenyon, both Chief Constables, the Chief Executive of the Police Authority Mr Jeremy Holderness and every member of the Police Authority do not deny there has been serious criminal fraud committed by Police officers, they simply refuse to comment, or to respond to complaints, in order to prevent the proper investigation and arrest of corrupt police officers.
North Yorkshire Police are currently amongst the subjects of enquiries by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass into Police Corruption. Recently there have been questions in the Houses of Parliament openly alleging corruption in North Yorkshire Police, and yet no Chief Officer or member of the Authority will respond in any way, or deny it. They simply maintain their right of silence – exactly the same policy that worked so well for Chief Constable Briggs.
The two remaining Chief Officers in the force, ACC Cross and ACC Tim Madgwick both applied for the Deputy Chief Constable’s jobs and were rejected. However, because the Police Authority had not made adequate arrangements to appoint successors to the disgraced Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable, they appointed ACC Madgwick as Temporary Chief Constable and ACC Cross as Temporary Deputy Chief Constable when both of them failed the selection process for Deputy Chief Constable, about a year ago, and are demonstrably not strong enough to operate at that level. Clearly this is a completely unsatisfactory state of affairs, caused by corruption and indiscipline at Chief Police Officer level and the failure of every member of the Police Authority to respond to it properly.
Returning to the question I posed at the beginning of this article, “why is it there is obviously a Senior Officer corruption problem in North Yorkshire Police”, the answer I suggest is that It appears to me that the reason for this specific problem is a refusal by the Police Authority to execute its disciplinary functions over Senior Officers and a failure by every Chief Officer of the Force to uphold the standards of discipline and leadership, by example, that are expected of them – for they know that they will be supported by the Police Authority no matter what. In my experience, in the private sector they would all have lost their jobs.
I understand that Police Authority member Mr Carl Les is standing for appointment as Police & Crime Commissioner. How can that be appropriate when I have e mailed him over all of these matters and he has refused to respond, and is directly and personally associated with the illegality, fraud and corruption that the Police Authority has supported for years. It will need a new broom from outside North Yorkshire to rectify the fundamental issues that infect North Yorkshire Police and the North Yorkshire Police Authority, not more of the same from someone irretrievably tainted with the odour of corruption.