Sunday 19th September 2021,
North Yorks Enquirer

2021 PFCC Election Special – 3

The NYE is running a series of Election Special articles on the forthcoming elections to determine who will be the next Police Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) for North Yorkshire on the 6th of May.

The first article covered the background to the PFCC election and the positive achievements of the current PFCC Mrs Julia Mulligan and can be read here:

The second article covered the failings in role of the current PFCC Mrs Julia Mulligan and can be read here:

PFCC Mulligan: an Assessment Part 3

by TIM HICKS

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This article will focus on how the impact of vested political interests has affected the performance of PFCC Mulligan and how she has developed inappropriate relationships with successive Chief Constables.

Vested personal and political interests, and failure to hold the police to account resulting in a policy of suppressing complaints

PFCC Mulligan holds the national portfolio for chair of the Police Reform and Transformation Board and openly admitted to NYE reporter Nigel Ward that the police complaints system was not fit for purpose and needed to be reformed at a public meeting. NYE article here.

This is commendable.

Unfortunately these feelings appear to apply only to complaints against police forces outside North Yorkshire. PFCC Mulligan and her staff in the OPFCC have been extremely skilful in supressing complaints against themselves and the Chief Constable.

Incredibly, her Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer Mr Simon Dennis was recently found to have supressed a complaint from me. Needless to say, no action has been taken against Mr Dennis by PFCC Mulligan over this. However, the OPFCC lawyer has written to me confirming that she will not process any more complaints from me because I am wasting public resources.

Mr Dennis was recently the subject of severe criticism by the former leader of the North Yorkshire Police Federation Mike Stubbs in an article by Stuart Minting (here) in which he is quoted as saying: 

“It riled me that he tried to present himself as a hero of challenging senior officers. He certainly didn’t do that when he was the force solicitor. 

North Yorkshire is known by the Federation’s solicitors as one of the worst for trying to deal with legal claims against. They are just utterly obstructive and that was a lot to do with the attitude developed under Simon Dennis”. 

In the article Mr Stubbs is quoted as saying that while Mr Dennis had been the force’s solicitor he had been “a company man”, serving as an enthusiastic advocate of the force’s “abysmal failure to properly administer the 2009 Special Priority Payments scheme. Simon Dennis played a key role in trying to defend the force’s completely indefensible position. It took Judicial Review proceedings by North Yorkshire Police Federation in 2010 to win back over £72,000 in payments for more than 50 officers.” 

“I regard Mr Dennis’ appointment as a retrograde step, taking the organisation back to the dark days of Grahame Maxwell and everything the force went through at that time and the approach that it took to errors and issues that it made.”

I can pass no comment on Mr Stubbs remarks, other than to say that this picture entirely accords with my own experience of Mr Dennis.

It is therefore deeply concerning that PFCC Mulligan has appointed him as Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer of an organisation that is supposed to hold North Yorkshire Police to account.

Inappropriate relationship with the Chief Constable that is “too close and corrupt and has led to the Chief Constable becoming involved in party politics and the PFCC interfering in operational police investigations

When bullying allegations were upheld against PFCC Mulligan, her credibility was severely damaged and she was under enormous pressure. She then announced that she was raped as a fifteen year old. This generated considerable positive and sympathetic press exposure this provided to PFCC Mulligan, please see this piece in the Yorkshire Post by Rob Parsons. The article quotes PFCC Mulligan as giving the following reasons for making this public announcement at that time:

“The North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner said she had been influenced by the recent #Metoo campaign to highlight the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment.

But she said part of the reason for her speaking out was the allegations of bullying behavior made against her by her former staff, which were made public last year and upheld by the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel.

She said: “I know I am far from perfect, indeed I am my own harshest critic. After all, I have spent 36 years beating myself up for a situation that I still think today was partly of my own making. “I hate to ever think I had either intentionally or unintentionally made someone upset or feel unvalued, and for that I am deeply sorry.

“But those characterisations hurt. I can’t hide that – and they brought everything back I’ve hidden away for so long.”.”

This generated positive and sympathetic publicity in the media and this statement was published by Chief Constable Winward on the NYP website: 

“It takes courage for someone to speak out about an incident of sexual abuse or rape, as Julia has done today. She has our absolute support, on a personal level as a colleague, and at an organisational level as a police service.

My message today to anyone who has been a victim of a sexual crime, whether it happened recently or in the past, is that the police are here to help. If you come forward and report the incident, we will provide you with support, investigate the crime, and do everything within our power to bring the offender to justice.

That said, these matters are extremely personal, so our approach is very much a victim-centred one. In this case, the incident has been logged, but the Commissioner has been clear that she does not want to make an official report to the police, and does not want the matter investigated at this time. That is her personal choice, and we respect it completely.”

I do not understand how a crime can be logged without an official report. The police have power to investigate a sexual offence without the consent of the victim. So I do not think it is healthy for the PFCC to intervene in an ongoing operational police investigation – even if she is the victim – to prohibit any further investigation.

It is clear from Mrs Mulligan’s remarks above that the major factor that decided her to go public with this event at that time -as opposed to any time since she was appointed as PCC in 2012 – is the bullying allegations. Her announcement and the supportive statement by the Chief Constable immediately provided much needed sympathetic news coverage for PFCC Mulligan at a time when her political career was under threat.

In my view whenever a rapist goes unpunished it is contrary to the public interest, because they are free to carry on to commit other rapes and may indeed feel emboldened by having escaped justice. That having been said I recognise that there are occasions when a victim is so traumatised that going to court would be so severe an ordeal, that it is in the victim’s best interests not to proceed.

However, PFCC Mulligan is a capable, articulate, mature woman and a public figure in policing, who has been outspoken in criticising the criminal justice system for failing rape victims.

So I find it incongruous that when there was an opportunity to bring a rapist to justice, PFCC Mulligan prohibited any investigation or attempt to arrest her alleged rapist and Chief Constable Winward praised her for this decision, which allowed a rapist to escape justice and potentially to carry on offending against other victims.

Given that Chief Constable Winward’s positive remarks must have been cleared for publication with PFCC Mulligan beforehand, this seems to me to smack of the Chief Constable generating positive personal publicity for a Conservative politician and close personal ally that was under political pressure over misconduct.

Failure to hold the police to account, resulting in serious crime against vulnerable people going uninvestigated

PFCC Mulligan’s biography on the OPFCC website claims:

“Julia has an ambitious programme focussed on……….protecting the most vulnerable”

 Because of their circumstances, sex workers are women that are particularly vulnerable to crime and severe levels of violence and come from the lower socio economic classes. Yet PFCC Mulligan has not commented at all on Chief Constable Winward’s decision not to investigate the murder of a woman in 1979, who is thought to be a prostitute. Even though fresh information generated by the NYE has given a realistic prospect of identifying her and possibly identifying her killer. Thereby essentially acquiescing to the Chief Constable’s decision and contravening the Victims Code.

Victim support the Winward way:

My message today to anyone who has been a victim of a sexual crime, whether it happened recently or in the past, is that [if you are the PFCC] the police are here to help. If you come forward and report the incident, we will provide you with support, investigate the crime, and do everything within our power to bring the offender to justice. …our approach is very much a victim-centred one” unless you are a prostitute from a lower socio-economic group, in which case stop wasting my time.”

This appears to me to be a clear case of virtue signalling on the one hand, while abandoning victims from lower socio-economic groups on the other. Even an alcoholic prostitute has the right to justice. I have no doubt that if the alleged victim had been the daughter of a policeman or a Conservative politician, there would have been a very different response from both the Chief Constable and PFCC Mulligan.

Failure to hold the police to account and developing unhealthy but mutually convenient and supportive relationships with successive Chief Constables that are “too close and corrupt”, which has allowed misconduct to go unpunished and undermined discipline in North Yorkshire Police

 

The office of PFCC is primarily a control function. Its primary duty is to hold the police -that is in real terms the Chief Constable- to account. Here I quote from the OPFCC’s website

“The role of the PFCCs is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account. They are responsible for the totality of policing.”

PFCC Mulligan’s relationships with each of the Chief Constables that has served during her time as PFCC. (Tim Madgwick (2012 until 2013), Dave Jones (2013 until 2018) and Lisa Winward 2018 onwards) all seem to be mutually cosy.

Mrs Mulligan made thousands of pounds of taxpayer’s funds available to all three Chief Constables to pursue a civil action against NYE journalists, from which they would have benefitted financially, but had no benefit to the taxpayer.

PFCC Mulligan did not issue one word of criticism of Chief Constable Jones when he went on annual leave, then immediately put in an application to retire and a three-month sick note in April 2018, ensuring that he stopped work there and then. Thus pocketing an estimated £40,000 in sick pay and benefits for the three months when he should have been working before he retired.

Chief Constable Jones had agreed to serve until May 2020, but PFCC Mulligan took no action over the breach of contract. As a consequence of which, there was no time for a smooth transition to a new Chief Constable with the consequent disruption to operational efficiency.

The relationship between Mrs Mulligan and Chief Constable Jones is perfectly shown in the lead illustration, which is by our late (but much lamented) cartoonist “Codhead”.

The NYE and its correspondents have recently identified over thirty-three police officers and members of police staff as potentially breaching the lockdown regulations at multiple locations across North Yorkshire at Force Headquarters, Scarborough, Filey, Skipton Police Station, Scalby Mills, Clifton Moor Shopping Centre, Whitby and Fulford Road Police Station. These officers include Chief Constable Winward, Deputy Chief Constable Cain, five inspectors, two sergeants, three motorcycle policemen from Cleveland Police, two officers pictured in the lead illustration (known in the NYE newsroom as the Sleeping Beauties) asleep in a layby unmasked and two Constables patrolling Clifton Moor unmasked. I have additionally asked that the Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and the Inspector commanding Scarborough Police Station each receive a £10,000 fine for organising a large gathering inside Scarborough Police Station, namely a presentation to Ms Win Almond for completing fifty years’ service.

Reactive policing the Winward way:

Chief Constable Winward has refused to comment on the allegation that these two officers were asleep on duty in a layby unmasked.

The Chief Constable has refused to process my complaints, thereby giving herself, the Deputy Chief Constable and all of the other officers’ immunity from investigation and -if proven- punishment, for acts of misconduct that they are fining members of the public for.

Similar conduct by police officers in other forces has been impartially investigated and properly dealt with. But PFCC Mulligan has refused to comment on the Chief Constable’s decision, which has effectively excused her and every member of her force from the COVID 19 Regulations. This has ensured that NYP maintains lower standards of discipline and accountability than other forces, routinely endangers lives and undermines the standing of the police service to the public.

I can think of no occasion when PFCC Mulligan has criticised NYP or any Chief Constable. She appears to have cultivated a close and mutually beneficial personal alliance with each successive Chief Constable, which has resulted in a failure of control by the PFCC. Ordinarily, a Chief Constable would never dare ignore breaches of the COVID regulations by members of her force on this scale.

However, Chief Constable Winward knows that she is blindly supported by the PFCC and effectively this means she can act with impunity. The relationship between Chief Constable Winward and PFCC Mulligan appears to me to be a classic examples of the type described above by Mrs May of being “too close and corrupt”.

Summary

PFCC Mulligan has had a number of stellar successes and these are set out in my article here: PFCC Election – 1. She was also hard working and committed to making a success of the role.

However, her term has been marked by a series of serious failures, which I have laboured above, because whichever candidate becomes PFCC on the 6th of May, is going to have to address them.

I understand PFCC Mulligan has a limited background in marketing and PR, but no experience in managing finance and budgets in large organisations. Hence perhaps her evident inability to control the financial issues raised in these articles, which has cost the North Yorkshire taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years.

PFCC Mulligan appears not to understand or have any interest in holding the police to account. It may be that she believes her duty is to establish and maintain good relations with the Chief Constable. Hence her clear and inexcusable failure in this most critical aspect of her duties.

Under normal circumstances the PFCC would be expected to be supported by the staff of the OFPCC with appropriate advice. However, this appears not to have happened.

Such is the state of disorder in the OPFCC that it cannot publish an accurate staff structure, or numbers, estimates varying from 22, to 25, 28, 29 or more. I asked PFCC Mulligan to update the website, so it is accurate and reflects the true state of OPFCC staffing. I received no response and as at the 19th of April when this article was submitted for publication, the website was still inaccurate.

This may be because her personal failures have affected the ability of the OPFCC to perform efficiently, because the staff are not up to the role, they have not been kept informed by PFCC Mulligan, or because their advice has been ignored. To quote Baroness Harris of Richmond’s criticism of PFCC Mulligan in the House of Lords:

“She (PFCC Mulligan) treats people who disagree with her with utter contempt.”

These views entirely accord with the NYE’s experience of PFCC Mulligan’s way of operating. This personal failing has led to strained relations with the media, (not just the NYE), in her being found to have bullied members of her staff, undoubtedly causing disharmony within the OPFCC, posibly t othe point that it has become disfunctional.

These are my own personal opinions. Be that as it may; the reality is that PFCC Mulligan has left the office of PFCC as a failure, rejected by her own party, with her reputation in tatters and her political career destroyed.

It is now up to a new PFCC to take control and deliver a better service to the people of North Yorkshire. Whoever it is, the NYE wishes them well.

PFCC Mulligan, Chief Constable Winward and Councillor Carl Les were provided with a draft of this article before publication and invited to comment.

Coming next

The NYE will publish interviews with all four candidates.

Right of Reply

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.

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