Right of Reply: Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) Phil Cain
If anyone is mentioned in an article and does not agree with the views expressed in it, or wishes to correct any factual inaccuracy, the NYE will always consider their views and publish a correction if appropriate.
In April 2020, the NYE ran an article criticising Deputy Chief Constable Phil Cain of North Yorkshire Police (NYP) (pictured below) over a non-essential journey to Scarborough Police Station to attend a retirement ceremony for a long serving member of Police staff.
The article was picked up by Private Eye, which subsequently ran a short article on it which can be seen below.
In this Yorkshire Live article by Victoria Sheer, DCC Cain calls the Private Eye article and, by implication, the NYE article, “irresponsible journalism” on the basis that (quote):
- I was on uniformed patrol as a warranted officer.
- As a senior leader I was checking on welfare of team.
- No retirement do or other celebration. Just popped in to say thank you for 50yrs service whilst there.
The “two idiots” headline is from regional newspaper not me.
DCC Cain did not contact the NYE with his concerns and we only learned of his comments by chance. However, the NYE has nevertheless considered them and would comment in response that:
- As a Chief Police Officer, DCC Cain is not allocated uniform patrol duties. His duty station is Force Headquarters, particularly during a crisis. So he should not be cruising around North Yorkshire “on patrol”, given that Uniform Branch Constables in response cars are supposed to perform this duty and that the advice at the time was to reduce travel.
- The vague and non-essential purpose of checking on welfare in a Covid pandemic is not a justifiable reason for a Chief Police Officer to travel 100 miles from Force Headquarters to Scarborough. The reality more likely to be as DCC Cain has stated above (see Tweet)that he went to Scarborough on the orders of the Chief Constable to represent her at a retirement ceremony for a long-serving member of staff.
- DCC Cain’s visit may actually have endangered the welfare of Police Officers by potentially spreading the infection to/from Scarborough Police Station, Force Headquarters and any other station he visited. The advice was clear that only absolutely necessary journeys should have been undertaken precisely for this reason.
- Visiting Scarborough Police Station to say thank you to a colleague for 50 years of service on behalf of the Chief Constable (see Tweet), posing for an official photograph, then re-tweeting it on the North Yorkshire Police #Stay Home Save Lives Twitter account is:
(i) An unnecessary journey.
(ii) Does constitute a retirement ceremony.
- Although the “two idiots” headline is from the Yorkshire Post. DCC Cain re-Tweeted it, thereby confirming he agreed with it.
- DCC Cain does not address the criticism in the article that he was unmasked and not observing two metres social distancing.
The overall conclusion is inescapable that this was a non-essential journey and that by undertaking it; DCC Cain demonstrated bad judgment, may have committed an offence and endangered the health of his subordinates, and publicly undermined the official advice to cut down on unnecessary journeys.
The implications for journalism of the Yorkshire Live article
The Yorkshire Live article has some wider ethical implications for journalism.
Compare the coverage of the NYE and Private Eye to the Yorkshire Live article.
The Yorkshire Live article does not question, enquire, or hold DCC Cain to account. It does not challenge DCC Cain’s version of events. Ms Scheer ignored blatant weaknesses in his rebuttal and simply published DCC Cain’s defence without comment.
Further, no attempt was made to obtain a comment from Private Eye or from the NYE.
This is not journalism.
It is not the role of journalists in a democratic society to act as an unquestioning mouthpiece for public servants and public bodies that have been subjected to well-founded criticism. I cannot ever remember an occasion when a public servant that has been accused of misconduct has been given a platform on a reputable publication to deny it, without any form of analysis or opposing view. The article is a very poor and unethical piece of journalism and Ms Scheer should be ashamed of it.
Nevertheless, I am grateful to her for publishing it. Her article demonstrates why so many readers have abandoned the mainstream media and turned to alternative media like the NYE. So they can obtain incisive, informed, journalism on controversial subjects.
The NYE is satisfied that the thrust of both the NYE and Private Eye articles are accurate, hold the Police to account and are in the public interest. As are all of our articles on this subject that hold the Police to account.
The favouritism shown to DCC Cain is a disgrace. He is a public figure in a position of leadership in a crisis and the public expect that people in this position will show leadership by example. Witness the furore over the allegations against Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is only a politician. The public expect a much higher standard from the Police, particularly from Chief Police Officers.
It should be said that a complaint was made about DCC Cain over this matter to NYP.
Tellingly, the Force did not investigate the complaint and then exonerate DCC Cain; Chief Constable Winward ordered that it was not investigated. I suspect that in any Force other than NYP, the complaint would have been investigated and DCC Cain would have been fined, as the “two idiots” that visited Scarborough to view a car were. Hence perhaps the reason Chief Constable Winward refused to proceed with the complaint.
In London, even a person as powerful as the Prime Minister has been made the subject of an investigation over allegations he has breached the Covid regulations. Yet in North Yorkshire, the Chief Constable has de facto given all her Police Officers exemption, by suppressing all complaints, while encouraging them to prosecute members of the public for committing the same offences.
A clear double standard that the public are outraged about. So why is the standard of accountability so much lower in North Yorkshire than it is in every other part of the UK? In my opinion, there are two reasons. These are:
- Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Metcalfe (pictured below) is the official whose duty it is to hold the Police to account. She has backed up the Chief Constable, essentially making her immune from any sanction and allowing this situation to continue.
- The journalists like Ms Scheer and the media in North Yorkshire generally do not hold the Police to account.
The NYE will continue to raise this issue as a lone voice in North Yorkshire.
Right of Reply
A draft of this article has been sent to DCC Cain and to Ms Scheer. At the time of being sent for publication, no response has been received from DCC Cain.
However, the content editor for Yorkshire Live did respond:
“As stated in our Complaints Policy, we will only consider complaints that are made within one year of an article first appearing online. In light of this, we are unable to assist you with your complaint.”
The NYE will publish any response we receive from them and issue a retraction and apology if appropriate. In the meantime we will let our readers consider the facts and form their own opinions.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org email address and your views and a correction will be published if appropriate.
NYE Appeal for Information
If you become aware of a public figure or Police Officer breaching the lockdown regulations, please photograph or video him or her and make a note of the:
- Registration no of their vehicle.
- If possible their rank and police collar numbers.
- Other circumstances.
Then inform the NYE using the email@example.com email.
The NYE will pay a reward of £100.00 for each set of images in accordance with standard journalistic practice.
Police Officers are authority figures and resent being confronted with their own misconduct. This video here shows a member of the public confronting police officers that were blatantly breaching the coronavirus regulations. Incredibly they admitted this, became incensed that someone had the nerve to point out their misconduct, verbally abused him, then closed up to him without face masks.
So if you do photograph any Police Officer(s) breaching the regulations, we think it may be unwise to say they have been photographed and you are claiming the NYE reward on them.
Please just send the information to the NYE at the above email address.