Who is the Chief? Where is Mabs?
by TIM HICKS
As is normal for a North Yorkshire crime correspondent, I routinely review the North Yorkshire Police (NYP) website for news and updates.
Unusually, yesterday (24/01/24) out of curiosity I had a look at the Chief Officer page of the NYP website to see if there were any changes and I nearly fell off my seat.
Each Police Force in the UK is required to have a Chief Constable and a Deputy Chief Constable. The incumbents of these roles in NYP – which are critical to public safety in North Yorkshire – were I thought Chief Constable Lisa Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Mabs Hussain. Both thought to be avid readers of the NYE, following our coverage of their expenses. Chief Constable Winward is due to retire on the 31st of March 2024 and will be replaced, at that point, by Deputy Chief Constable Tim Forber of South Yorkshire Police.
Imagine my surprise when I saw that according to the NYP Website Chief Officers, NYP now has two Chief Constables Lisa Winward and Acting Chief Constable Elliot Foskett. Deputy Chief Constable Mabs Hussain has disappeared and has been replaced by Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Scott Bisset.
Also going up in the world are newly promoted Temporary Assistant Chief Constable (T/ACC) Catherine Clarke, a Superintendent until 2022, and T/ACC Wayne Fox, who was a Detective Superintendent until at least April 2023. His appointment has been so speedy that there is no biography of him on the website and he is pictured in civvies, not uniform.
As an aside, T/ACC Fox is also thought to be an avid reader of the NYE because of its work on the Claudia Lawrence investigation, which indicates that Claudia was murdered by Christopher Halliwell. Not the six or so men that NYP has arrested so far in this bungled investigation.
It is unclear when these changes occurred.
There can only be one Chief Constable in place at any one time, so the fact that an Acting Chief Constable has been appointed would indicate that Chief Constable Winward has departed and is no longer in role – although her retirement date is the 31st of March.
DCC Hussain has been replaced by a Temporary Deputy Chief Constable, indicating that he is not currently in role, but may return.
There is no announcement of these changes on the force website or the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner’s website, or in the press, so this complete change in force leadership appears to have been performed covertly. With no attempt to inform the public. Only the NYE is exercising oversight over NYP and releasing this information to the people of North Yorkshire.
Stonewalling by Acting Chief Constable Foskett and Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Metcalfe
So what has brought about these changes?
Your correspondent suspects he knows the answer to these questions, but I do not choose to reveal my suspicions here.
I preferred to give Acting Chief Constable Foskett and Police Fire and Crime Commissioner Metcalfe the opportunity of revealing the reasons for these changes. So I asked the for a media comment confirming:
- The status of Chief Constable Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Hussain and that they are no longer working, when they stopped working, if they are suspended from duty, on sick leave, or (Chief Constable Winward) has left, to take retirement nearly three months before her official retirement date.
- That the North Yorkshire taxpayer is still paying for their salaries, even though they are not on duty.
- If the new appointees are also receiving Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable salaries while undertaking these duties.
- The date when Chief Constable Forber starts work.
- When a permanent Deputy Chief Constable will be appointed.
Chief Constable Foskett did not respond. Commissioner Metcalfe responded that NYP is a separate organisation from the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire and I should make enquiries with NYP.
Although NYP is a separate organisation to the Office of the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner, that does not change the fact that Commissioner Metcalfe is responsible for holding it to account and in particular, for appointing the Chief Constable and informing the public of change in the Senior Officer Team.
Commissioner Metcalfe knows that NYP does not respond to requests for media comment from the North Yorks Enquirer. So the Commissioner’s response appears to be a way of stonewalling me.
The current situation appears to be that both the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable are on gardening leave, suspended from duty, ill or otherwise rendered ineffective and NYP is the only force in the country that does not have a properly appointed substantive Chief Constable or Deputy Chief Constable.
Nevertheless, both Commissioner Metcalfe and Acting Chief Constable Foskett are refusing to comment and withholding this information from the public.
This appears to me to be totally unacceptable and a breach of their duty to act openly.
The North Yorkshire Police, Fire & Crime Panel were also asked for a comment, but were unable to respond by the time the article went for publication.
About the new Chief Constable
Acting Chief Constable Foskett is also thought to read the NYE, following our exposure of his attempt to misrepresent an inspection of NYPs custody arrangements as good, when in fact it was highly critical. NYE article here. In this article I stated:
“If he carries on like this, I predict ACC Foskett will have a long and successful career with NYP, rising to the rank of Chief Constable.”
It is usually nice to be vindicated but, on this occasion, I have a somewhat sick feeling.
Right of Reply
If you are mentioned in this article and do not agree with the views expressed in it, or wish to correct any factual inaccuracy, please let me know using the email@example.com email address and your views and/or a correction will be published if appropriate.