Friday 12th July 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

Transparency & Accountability in NYP: Follow-Up

Transparency & Accountability in NYP: Follow-Up

by TIM HICKS

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Introduction

Police, Fire & Crime Commissioners, Chief Police Officers and senior members of their support staff are required to publish their expenses. This is to meet the requirement for openness and accountability in policing. All UK Police forces and Police and Crime Commissioners comply with this requirement.

NYP Expenses: A follow up

In my article Transparency and Accountability the NYP way here, I raised concerns that:

  • Chief Constable Winward’s (pictured above right) disclosures of her expenses were incomplete and inadequate.
  • Deputy Chief Constable Maboob Hussain had claimed expenses for having his car washed and for a meal at his place of work at Force Headquarters.
  • It appeared that Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Foskett was paid expenses for a night in a hotel in London on the 22nd of March 2023 twice.
  • Some of the expenses reports disclosed on the NYP website were inaccurate and mis-stated.

Chief Constable Winward April 2022 – March 2023 Expenses

As you can see (above):

  • On the 22nd of April 2022 Chief Constable Winward charged £26.08 for a meal and has provided no details or justification for it.
  • Chief Constable Winward has charged £1,361.06 for accommodation, train fares, parking and taxis without providing any details of what this expenditure was incurred for, other than “Rail”, “Conference” or “Travel”.
  • On the 23rd of September 2022, Chief Constable Winward charged £53.00 for airport parking at Leeds international airport, but no associated expenditure for a duty flight is shown and no further information or explanation is given.

Normally, I would expect such claims to result in an investigation, and either a denial, or an explanation and a correction to the published statements. However, no such explanation or corrective action has been taken her expenses have not been corrected and she is still not compliant with the requirement to openly disclose here expenses – despite having had this pointed out to her.

However, being positive about things, I am delighted to report that someone in NYP reads the NYE and as a result of my article, some action appears to have been taken in respect of the expenses for Chief Constable Winward, DCC Hussain expenses and ACC Foskett for April 2023 to September 2023,

Chief Constable Winward April 23 – September 2023 Expenses

All of the missing information highlighted in my article has been provided and Chief Constable Winward is now compliant with the requirement to disclose her expenses for this period.

However, in the corrected expenses:

  • £154 of accommodation charges for the 13th of March 2023 in Edinburgh, and £547.17 of Accommodation charges on the 18th and 19th of July in London have suddenly appeared.
  • The Edinburgh Accommodation charges are in the wrong year and should have been charged in the April 22 – March 2023 Expenses.
  • Even more perplexing is that three meals on the 27th of July (4.4 – 4.6) totalling £70.96 and one meal cost £139.00 on the 28th of July (4.7) in the original expenses report have disappeared from the corrected expenses. There was never any indication of what duty this expenditure was expended on and no justification of why the Chief should pay the princely sum of £139.00 for lunch (or dinner), which seems to me to be excessive. So I was delighted to see that his expenditure has been withdrawn.

Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Elliot Foskett

Originally, ACC Foskett claimed expenses for April 2023 to July 2023 show he claimed £320.25 for the 22nd of March 2023, having already claimed for accommodation in London that night in the previous year’s expenses. The implication being that he had claimed and been paid expenses twice.

This has now been replaced with a hotel charge of only £161.00 for the 21st of March 2023, a decrease of £159.25.


Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) Maboob Hussain

Originally DCC Hussain (pictured above, left) claimed £11.30 for a meal at Northallerton. In my article I pointed out that this was very strange, because his normal place of work as DCC is at force headquarters at Northallerton. The implication being that he was not entitled to charge for a meal there. A corrected expenses report has now been issued and the meal has been removed.

On the 18th of June 2023, DCC Hussain claimed £8.00 for having his car washed. The only explanation provided is “Travel”, so it is completely unclear what the justification for this is and it is not travel in the accepted usage of that term. In the new report he claimed another £6.50 for a car wash, which he has described as “Sundry”.

I have been an auditor since 1980 and this is the first time I have seen anyone claim for a car wash on expenses. I have been reviewing NYP Chief Officer’s expenses since about 2011 and I cannot remember ever seeing anyone claim expenses for a car wash. So I can conceive of no credible justification for this expenditure.

Overview

In summary, a fairly cursory review of NYPs published expenses reports and website has revealed that:

  • NYP does not have an expenses policy. To put this in context, an expenses policy is the most basic financial control. In forty years as an auditor, I have never, EVER encountered any organisation operating in any sector of the economy that does not have an expenses policy. A quick review of a small sample of other forces has revealed that they all have an expenses policy, leading to the startling conclusion that NYP may be the only force in the country not to have this fundamental control.
  • Three Chief Officers are not complying with the requirement to openly disclose their expenses.
  • Chief Constable Winward is unable to provide a justification for £1,361.06 of expenditure in the period April 2022 – March 2023.
  • It would appear that all three Chief Officers have probably had to repay expenses totalling as a result of the NYE’s scrutiny of the expense reports, or their expenses were misstated on the expenses reports.
  • It appears that Chief Officer’s expenses are not adequately scrutinised by the NYP Finance Department. So in real terms, this, coupled with the absence of an expenses policy means that Chief Officers can charge what they please. This is a complete and inexcusable failure of financial control.
  • Despite my earlier article and an attempt by NYP to correct the expenses reports, the expenses reports published on the NYP website are still inaccurate, incomplete and/or misstated.

DCC Hussain originally came to NYP from West Yorkshire Police (WYP) and it occurred to me that it may be that when he was in WYP he was allowed to claim car washes as an expense and he had mistakenly carried over this policy to NYP. So being a diligent sort of chap, I checked the WYP expenses policy and his expenses at WYP. Unlike NYP, WYP does have an expenses policy, which does not permit car washes to be claimed. While he was serving in WYP DCC Hussain did not claim them. I very much regret to say that it appears DCC Hussain has taken advantage of the lack of any effective financial controls in NYP to obtain expense payments for car washes that should never have been allowed.

As a result of NYE scrutiny, the expenses reports have been partially corrected and expenditure has been reclaimed from Chief Constable Winward £209.96, DCC Hussain £11.30 and ACC Foskett £159.25. A total benefit to the North Yorkshire taxpayer of £380.51.

This demonstrates the importance of having a free press that scrutinises public bodies and no doubt explains why Chief Constable Winward proscribed the NYE indefinitely – so she does not have to respond to legitimate scrutiny by the media over her expenses and the sexual abuse of detainees by her Officers.

I would comment in passing, that:

  • If a financial services organisation regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority publicly issued inaccurate financial reports and then been forced to re-state them, the Finance Director would have lost his job.
  • Whilst people do occasionally make mistakes, I have never come across a situation when three senior executives were forced to repay expenses in one year. This represents a failure of leadership and the wider concern must be that other junior officers from NYP who do not have to disclose expenses are following the same lead set by their senior officers. In which case, the total for expenses that will have to be re-paid will be far higher.
  • Historically, North Yorkshire Police (NYP) has had a continuing and ongoing history of misuse of police funds for private purposes by Chief Police Officers; many of them exposed by the NYE. It is evident that these failures are still occurring. This represents a complete failure for the internal audit function and the Audit Committee to effectively address this issue.

I am now so concerned at the situation prevailing in NYP over expenses that I have written to Commissioner Metcalfe asking her to:

  1. Implement a force expenses policy immediately.
  2. Direct that car washes are not allowable for expenses and to order DCC Hussain to repay the £14.50 he has claimed for them.
  3. Order Chief Constable Winward to either provide full disclose for her expenses or to repay the £1,361.06 of expenditure she has claimed.
  4. To make arrangements for me to attend at NYP Force Headquarters to perform a review of all the expenses claims submitted by NYP officers of all ranks, to identify any other irregularities and obtain repayment.
  5. Direct that the Expenses Reports are again reviewed and corrected, so that they are finally accurate and reliable.
  6. To take formal disciplinary action against the Head of NYP’s Finance Department for publishing inaccurate financial information.

This is to ensure that financial control in NYP is improved, so it can meet normal standards of financial control, as WYP does.

Chief Constable Winward, DCC Hussain, ACC Foskett and Commissioner Metcalfe have been provided with a copy of this article and given the opportunity to respond.


Coming Next

Transparency & Accountability: the NYPF&CC Zoë Metcalfe way.


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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