Wednesday 31st May 2023,
North Yorks Enquirer

NYP fails yet ANOTHER Inspection

NYP fails yet ANOTHER Inspection

by TIM HICKS

~~~~~

Introduction

For some time, North Yorkshire Police (NYP) has failed each audit and inspection it has been subjected to. The NYE has been holding NYP to account for this shameful state of affairs:

  • In March 2022, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) reviewed NYP’s child protection services with a National Child Protection Inspection (NCPI) and determined that the standard of its child protection was “poor”. NYE analysis here.
  • In September 2022, NYP’s custody suites were jointly inspected by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) the Inspectorate of Prisons and the Care Quality Commission The report was highly critical and identified two areas of concern, fifteen areas for improvement with sixty individual points of improvement across the full range of custody activities. The same concerns were raised both in the 2008 and 2015 HMICFRS Custody Inspections. The report is analysed in this NYE article Custody 1.
  • In November 2022 an NYE investigation based on the HMICFRS, Inspectorate of Prisons and the Care Quality Commission inspection of NYP’s custody suites findings revealed that NYP custody staff had been sexually abusing female detainees for many years. NYE investigation here.

On 17th March 2023 His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Fire & Rescue Service (HMICFRS) published its PEEL Inspection of North Yorkshire Police. The inspection assessed NYP in eight areas, which are shown below along with their grading.

1). Engaging with and treating the public with fairness and respect: Good

2). Managing offenders and suspects: Adequate

3). Preventing crime and anti-social behaviour: Adequate

4). Responding to the public: Requires improvement

5). Investigating crime: Requires improvement

6). Protecting vulnerable people: Requires Improvement

7). Building, supporting and protecting the workforce: Requires improvement

8). Strategic planning, organisational management and value for money: Inadequate

  • In March 2023, NYP’s auditors published a damning report on the way NYP manages its fleet of vehicles. It is truly shocking and revealed error after error that has cost the taxpayer thousands. My favourite example of mismanagement highlighted by the report is an electric cell van was ordered by NYP, but was sitting in the Transport Hub at Thirsk as the Force did not have the infrastructure to support electric vehicles. NYE report here
  • Now NYP has failed the HMICFRS NCPI Post Inspection Review on the 2022 inspection. The HMICFRS report can be read here. The report is highly critical of failures by NYP Chief Officers to implement the recommendations of the 2022 report, which they were aware of in 2021. The response of NYP by ACC Local Policing Scott Bisset can be obtained from the force website or read here.

When the original HMICFRS NCPI report was published, there was a so-called ‘public accountability meeting’ to go through the report findings and Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) Mabs Hussain was appointed as the “Gold Commander” for the NYP response. We were assured that NYP senior management was “really committed” to resolving these issues. A suitably gushy press release was issued Commissioner Metcalfe welcomes Chief Constable’s commitment to child protection in North Yorkshire at Public Accountability Meeting and we were assured that everything was under control.

A year on, HMICFRS audited 33 protection cases and only 11 (33%) were properly dealt with. This is similar to the situation HMICFRS found in 2021.

So in real terms, there has been no change. The problem was ignored, until the follow up, which revealed that very little has been done to rectify these failings

Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe finally holds the Chief Constable to account.

The person responsible for holding NYP to account for these ongoing failures is Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, Zoë Metcalfe .

Commissioner Metcalfe is one of the contenders to be the Conservative Party candidate to be Mayor of North Yorkshire & York at the forthcoming elections in May 2023. She has publicly and boldly stated that she is “uniquely qualified” to be Mayor, presumably the Mayor will take over the responsibilities currently held by the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire – the role she presently occupies. She is therefore seeking to capitalise on her current position to jump up to the role of Mayor, which will secure her more responsibility and a bigger salary.

As a result of the criticism of NYP by HMICFRS, Commissioner Metcalfe has been severely and – in my view – properly criticised and called on to resign.

Quoted in this article Crime Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe under pressure following critical report by Stuart Minting, North Yorkshire Council’s Labour Group Leader, Councillor Steve Shaw Wright said the commissioner had achieved:

nothing but a series of calamitous reports. She is doing very little. Police at the coal face are actually doing a brilliant job across North Yorkshire, but the ones who lead them need to get on with the job they are supposed to be doing. 

‘Call me Zoe’ wants to be the Conservative candidate for the Mayor of North Yorkshire and York, but I think she’s blown it.”

 This is the same position taken by the NYE for the last year.

The fallout from this latest failed inspection has resulted in criticism of Commissioner Metcalfe, which has damaged her chances of being elected. It appears to me that this in turn has bump started Commissioner Metcalfe into action and motivated her to criticise the police publicly. So she appears to be holding NYP to account and simultaneously repair the damage to her chances of being elected as Mayor.

Commissioner Metcalfe is quoted in the above article as saying that she had been:

“regularly assured that all concerns would be tackled head on and improvements made at a significant pace”, only to find 12 months later, the force is not in the position I expected them to be in.

“Not enough has been done and there is simply no excuse – North Yorkshire Police have let the public and the most vulnerable in our society down.” 

In this article by Thomas Barrett of This is the Coast, Commissioner Says “North Yorkshire Police Has Let The Public Down” over Child Protection, Chief Constable Winward and Commissioner Metcalfe provide audio-clips on their response to the HMICFRS NCPI findings. Being of the opinion that the best information comes straight from the horse’s mouth, I think they are well worth listening to. My analysis of them is as follows:

Chief Constable Winward starts by apologising for the failure of herself and her Force for those children that NYP has failed to protect. She goes on to blame the failure to address the findings of the NCPI report on:

  • The need to address the findings from another failed inspection, (the HMICFRS PEEL Inspection referred to above).
  • NYP undergoing significant structural change
  • The impact of the Transform 2020 change program, a £10m reduction in budget to make the Force more efficient, which was not properly implemented or evaluated because of the impact of the COVID pandemic.
  • The impact of implementing a shared service with the Fire & Rescue Service
  • High turnover of Assistant Chief Constables in the Force, leading to a lack of stability in role.
  • Not having the strategic direction, financial planning, and workforce planning in place to support change. This was being addressed by an operational review and an organisational review to ensure that NYP structures were fit for purpose.
  • The assurance and testing function of the shared enabling services was not in place and did not have the structure, capacity and competence to deliver the required assurance that things were being carried out.

This is a picture of a Force that has undergone disruption from budgetary cuts and re-structuring, while simultaneously being overwhelmed by the requirement to implement a shared service with the Fire & Rescue Service and respond to the recommendations of multiple failed inspections. NYP is not able to retain Chief Officers at ACC level, although no explanation is given for this failure.

Most concerning is that Force Headquarters does not have the strategic direction structure, capacity and competence to deliver the required assurance that recommendations from Inspections are being progressed satisfactorily.

This would seem to confirm the HMICFRS PEEL assessment of NYP’s strategic planning, organisational management and value for money as “Inadequate”. Yet it has taken the HMICFRS reports to reveal these failures, which Commissioner Metcalfe should have been aware of and promptly addressing. This is indicative of superficial and ineffective oversight and strategic leadership by Commissioner Metcalfe.

In her audio-clips, Commissioner Metcalfe states that she received assurances that NYP was in a better position than in fact it was and she has responded to this by completely overhauling the scrutiny and assurance process she employs to exercise scrutiny of NYP. This implies that (a) the Commissioner has been misled by NYP Chief Officers and (b) the oversight regime she and her office have operated since her election in 2021 was completely ineffective. A classic definition of failure by a supervisory and monitoring body.

Commissioner Metcalfe goes on to state that there will be public meetings to ensure that statements of progress are backed up by evidence and that she will not accept what she has been told. The first of these public meetings has now occurred and can be viewed here. This is a big improvement, but shows that until now the Commissioner was accepting assurances of progress without obtaining any concrete verification of it. Again, a classic failure of a supervisory and monitoring function.

Summary

According to the above article, the Leader of the Opposition on North Yorkshire Council, Cllr Bryn Griffiths, said the Liberal Democrat Group would be calling for Ms Metcalfe to resign at the next meeting of the authority.

As Councillor Griffiths points out, Commissioner Metcalfe has failed in her role. The situation prevailing in NYP is a disgrace. I know of no other Force in England and Wales that has had this consistent level of failure. To put this in context for our readers. The Cleveland Police Peel Assessment 2021-22 was only marginally better than NYPs and Cleveland is one of the six Police Forces in England and Wales that is in ‘special measures’.

However, Commissioner Metcalfe is not the only person that has responsibility for this situation. I think she has been let down by NYP’s senior leadership, who should never have let things get to this stage:

  • Chief Constable Winward has failed to ensure her Headquarters has the structures and capabilities to deliver an efficient Police Service and the prompt resolution of HMICFRS recommendations.
  • Chief Constable Winward prioritised responding to the HMICFRS PEEL inspection over resolving the failures in child protection revealed by the NCPI inspection. A management decision that she must take responsibility for.
  • DCC Hussain, who is “Gold Commander” for NYP’s response to the inspection, has failed to implement any significant improvement in NYP’s child protection performance.
  • ACC Foskett issued a statement to the public on the NYP force website which was blatantly misleading about the findings of the HMMICFRS Custody Inspection. NYE analysis here. I have received no response to my concerns about sexual abuse of detainees in NYP custody suites from NYP and I have seen no reports of police officers facing misconduct proceedings over these offences. So it therefore appears to me that no action was taken and that the abuse could still be occurring.

These failures to address the findings of the HMICFRS NCPI report by NYP Chief Officers and the Commissioner’s failure to scrutinise NYP properly have resulted in children continuing to be abused. In some respects the situation appears to be similar to the way the Peter Jaconelli and Jimmy Savile paedophile ring was allowed to prosper in Scarborough that Nigel Ward and I exposed.

If NYP was a commercial organisation and it had repeatedly failed audits, resulting in media criticism, the board –i.e. Chief Constable Winward, DCC Hussain, ACC Foskett and Commissioner Metcalfe would have been instantly sacked. But because NYP is in the public sector, they are immune to any effective sanction.

Commissioner Metcalfe is not the person to hold NYP to account and ensure these issues are addressed.

After so much failure it is time for change. Both at Commissioner and Chief Officer level.


Right of Reply

NYP and Commissioner Metcalfe were provided with a draft of this article and invited to comment. To date – in accordance with the Chief Constable and Commissioner’s media policy of proscribing the NYE – no response has been received, but should one be received, it will be published.

If you are mentioned in this article and do not agree with the views expressed in it, or if you wish to correct any factual inaccuracy, please let me know using the letters@nyenquirer.uk email address and your views and a correction will be published if appropriate.


 

Comments are closed.