North Yorkshire Police Essential Duties #8
by TIM HICKS
The NYE supports the efforts of North Yorkshire Police to enforce the Coronavirus restrictions
The NYE has done everything it can to support the efforts of the police to save lives during the COVID 19 epidemic, by highlighting police advice to the public on how to stay safe.
- North Yorkshire Police Essential Journeys #1 – DCC Cain, here
- North Yorkshire Police Essential Journeys #2 – DCC Cain, here
- North Yorkshire Police Essential Journeys #3 – CC Winward, here
- North Yorkshire Police Essential Journeys #4 – Complaint, here
- Scarborough Police break the law, here
- North Yorkshire Police Essential Journeys #5 – Complaint, here
- North Yorkshire Police Essential Duties #6 – Cressida Dick, here
- North Yorkshire Police Essential Duties #7 – Private Eye, here
However, responsible media also has a duty to inform the public when things go wrong and to hold the police to account. The NYE has therefore criticised Commissioner Cressida Dick of the Metropolitan Police and Chief Constable Lisa Winward, and Deputy Chief Constable Phil Cain of North Yorkshire Police because all three officers have been endangering lives by routinely breaching the Coronavirus regulations. To quote the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire Mrs Julia Mulligan:
“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.”
The North Yorkshire Police Essential Jorneys/Duties articles were popular and extremely widely viewed. They observed that:
- When the police arrest someone or take them into custody, police officers cannot maintain social distancing rules. They sometime have to go hands-on, and that inevitably increases the risk of becoming infected and then passing on the infection to their colleagues, either in a police vehicle, the cells, an interview room, or the narrow confines of a police station. Police Officers are therefore more at risk of contracting COVID-19. Consequently, Police Officers are at a much higher risk of infection from their colleagues and the public, which in turn endangers their families. It only takes one Police Officer to contract COVID-19 and an entire police station could be infected, with the infection only showing after the incubation period two weeks later.
- Firemen are also particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 because when on night shift they sleep in dormitories above the fire station and when on duty attending an emergency, they share the cab of the fire engine in close proximity to each other. Thereby increasing their vulnerability to contracting coronavirus, then returning home and infecting their families.
- Chief Officers that do not observe the social distancing rules when visiting police and fire stations risk spreading a COVID-19 outbreak in one police station, to every Police and Fire Station in North Yorkshire and Force Headquarters. This could lead to loss of life, an outbreak of illness amongst policemen and firefighters requiring several weeks of sick leave that could lead to manpower shortages and a partial failure of policing, and fire fighting in the county.
The NYE was the first media organisation to raise the alarm about Chief Officers not respecting the lockdown rules. The national media followed it with the Commissioner Dick incident on Westminster Bridge. Private Eye has picked up the story from the NYE.
Private Eye article
This demonstrates that the decision by the NYE to run with this story was sound and reflected both journalistic and public opinion. It also demonstrates the quality of our journalism, again beating every national media outlet to raise these concerns in the public interest.
Clearly, the position taken by the NYE on this issue is rational and mainstream. It is supported by the government medical advice, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, public comment across most mainstream media publications and the directions of the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, quoted above.
The NYE team were therefore perplexed when these articles attracted some criticism on social media. A few typical examples (with names redacted) are published below (with apologies for the uncouth language used):
I understand that the administrators have removed some posts and associated comments from the Whitby/Scarborough pages. If this is so, then I would hasten to add that this was not at the request of any NYE journalist.
However, I would make the following observations on some of the few words of criticism the NYE has been receiving over our coverage of this issue:
- On a point of principle, it is completely unacceptable to use social media to be abusive of another person, just because you do not agree with his position on an issue. Particularly if you are not able to articulate a valid specific criticism.
- Whilst it is true that the police are thin on the ground, this manpower shortage is exacerbated when the Chief Constable visits a Police Station for a non-operational purpose and distract two sergeants away from operational policing to “look after”
- The Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable do not supervise police officers about their operational duties at a local police station. This is done by the Inspector in charge of the station, who is aware of local conditions and policing priorities. In Scarborough, it is Inspector Graeme Kynman. Chief Police Officers are mainly in management roles and divorced from day-to-day operational policing. They do not need to stray from Force Headquarters to do this.
- It is unacceptable for Chef Constable Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Cain to commit criminal offences, then evade being arrested, cautioned or prosecuted only because they are senior policemen, while at the same time issuing statements criticizing members of the public that are being prosecuted for lesser breaches. The media are right to hold the police to account and raise this.
- A police officer in North Yorkshire cannot criticise a Chief Police Officer, without destroying his career. The Police Federation and the Fire Brigades Union also appear to have failed to intervene to prevent Chief Police Officers from endangering the lives of their members. The intention of the articles was to protect the health and lives of Police and Fire Officers by raising the issue and publicly criticising Chief Police Officers. Thereby – hopefully – deterring them from breaching the regulations by conducting completely fatuous and unnecessary visits to Police and Fire stations, potentially spreading the disease from one station to the other.
- The articles have disseminated police advice during the Coronavirus pandemic and the NYE has separately published media statements from North Yorkshrie Police.
Failure of local journalists in North Yorkshire to hold the police to account
None of the local media outlets have run with the news that the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable have been breaching the lockdown rules even though it has run in the national press. There has been a wall-to-wall media blackout in North Yorkshire. To quote from the NYE website:
The North Yorks Enquirer is an internet news magazine covering local, regional and some national news. It provides a forum for citizen journalists working in the public interest to expose wasteful spending, malpractice and corruption in authorities around North Yorkshire and beyond.
The North Yorkshire Police ‘Essential Journeys/Duties’ articles are entirely within this mandate and this is what our readers expect from us. The NYE will continue to deliver cutting edge investigative journalism and will not shy away from controversy, even if it attracts criticism that appears to be unfounded.
I suspect that complainants are acting out of a feeling of admiration for the Police and the way they are handling the challenges of policing a pandemic. This is admirable, but if so I submit that this loyalty is misplaced.
It cannot be right for Chief Police Officers to break the law and endanger life. Some readers may not agree with this position. If this is so, they can write in specifying their objections and they will be published. Alternatively they can read the Scarborough News, Whitby Gazette, York Press, Yorkshire Post, or the Bunty/Beano.
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
The lockdown rules are explained in this excellent article from the BBC, here.
Latest advice from NYP, here.
Excellent source of 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.
Advice from the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire on protecting the vulnerable here.
Statement from North Yorkshire Police on its enforcement strategy here.