Further turmoil for Tories as Police/Fire chief faces boot

Problem with LEGO is that it can fall over

It looks like the North Yorkshire crime, fire and policing commissioner Julia Mulligan faces the chop following an extraordinary few weeks of controversy.

The final straw seems to have been a confrontation with other Tories on the crime panel who were unimpressed by her plans for a 9.8% increase in the amount that taxpayers will have to folk out for policing. The proposal was reluctantly nodded through yesterday.

A scrutiny panel initially blocked the move saying it was unclear how the funding increase would impact on critical street level policing numbers. Instead attention focused on the plans to appoint additional senior admin staff while the Commissioners personal expenses (credit card and hotel bills) also came under increased scrutiny.

The combination of the management of policing and fire activities under one roof had been claimed, by some, as likely to improve efficiency.  This is now increasingly being questioned.

Julia Mulligan had also been subject to several bullying allegations over recent months, deflecting attention from her principal role in fighting rising crime rates in some parts of York. Her presence in the City has been very low profile over the years although she has an  advice surgery scheduled in York on 6th March

Many people continue to doubt the need for an elected police chief. The old committee system provided adequate supervision without the additional bureaucracy and political posturing that the Commissioner system involves.

The next commissioner elections take place in 2020.

New Chief Constable for York and North Yorkshire

Some good news from the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Lisa Winward named as preferred candidate for Chief Constable

Elected Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire Julia Mulligan has today announced that Lisa Winward is to be put forward as her preferred candidate to become Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police.

Lisa Winward, currently North Yorkshire’s Temporary Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable since February 2017, was chosen following a rigorous two-day interview process, including taking questions from members of the public and partners in a Question Time event and panel interviews, on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 July.

The Police and Crime Commissioner will now put her preferred candidate to the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, who have a statutory duty to hold a confirmation hearing to consider Temporary Chief Constable Winward’s suitability for the role. This will take place on Wednesday 15 August.

Community police numbers drop by more than half in York

Front line PCSO numbers have dropped by more than half in York since 2016.

PCSO’s passing out in 2014

Liberal Democrat Councillor Ashley Mason, who is currently serving as the Vice Chair to the Police & Crime Panel, recently submitted a Freedom of Information request to North Yorkshire Police Force. He wanted to kow the number of community police officers patrolling the streets of the City

In response, Cllr Mason was told that there are currently 25 front line PCSO’s in York.

This compares to 64 in 2016.

Cllr Mason had also requested the figures for the last 10 years, but unfortunately, was told that this information was not recorded.

This revelation comes amidst growing concerns that the fall in police numbers, due to Government cuts, has lead to increases in crimes throughout England. Although this has been denied by Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, a leaked report from her own department, has suggested reductions in police numbers were “likely” to have led to the increase.

Earlier this year, PCC Julia Mulligan promised to look into the neighbourhood policing system in York, after many local councillors expressed concerns about the lack of local officers in their communities.

Councillor Ashley Mason, Liberal Democrat and Vice Chair of the Police & Crime Panel:

“PCSOs are a vital link between the police and the communities they serve.  To loose so many over two years is shocking.”

“It is interesting to see that the Police and Crime Commissioner say that numbers high, which suggests that some PCSO’s are being taken away from the City of York.”

“I will be writing to the Police and Crime Commissioner to express my concerns and insist that her review of the force begin as soon as possible”

Missing speed camera performance report found

We reported on claims made in April that the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) had claimed that University report had found that 8 accidents had been prevented as a result of the deployment of mobile speed camera vans in the county.

We did wonder at the time how they could possibly know?

Maybe accident reduction is about keeping drivers alert?

The police have previously admitted that they don’t record the trend in average/mean/top speeds recorded at the sites that they regularly monitor with cameras.

So there is currently no way of knowing whether vehicle speeds are reducing, or increasing, over a period of time.

Nor were the police able to provide accident data for monitored sites, although we still await a response from a fresh Freedom of Information request on this issue.

On 11th May, North Yorkshire Police emailed us to say that they “do not currently hold a copy of the study conducted by Newcastle University

On 5th June, following further pressure,  the PCCs office provided a link to what they claimed was the University study. As we recorded at the time, this study concerned only Northumberland and appeared to have little relevance to the situation in North Yorkshire.

On 30thJune a further message was received from the PCCs office. It appears that they had now found a report (reproduced below).  It transpires that the report was based on a desk top study that had been undertaken in 2015

Unfortunately, the report covered a period between 2011 and 2014 where there had been a general downturn in accident figures across the whole of North Yorkshire.

We conclude that the Police and PCC have been evasive when responding to requests that they justify their expenditure on deploying additional mobile camera vans (There are 12 in the county now).

Too often it seems that the cameras are located at sites where the principal objective is to maximise revenue (the income from “speed awareness” courses is used by the police to offset the costs of the vans).

Recent accidents on the A64 may raise further concerns about the effectiveness of the policy.

The original intention of the speed vans had been to locate them at and near, accident black spots.

They would also spend some of their time in the suburbs, and in villages, as a way of reassuring residents who were concerned about speeding issues.

When we have the final information that we requested on accident levels we will write to the PCC.

If necessary, this will be followed by a formal complaint.

Newcastle University report for North Yorkshire Police and PCC

New policing plan weak on York neighbourhoods

The North Yorkshire  Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has published a new plan covering the period up to 2021.

She claims that it addresses the issues raised by respondents to a consultation undertaken last year. It appears that the response to the consultation was very low with less than 1% of the population participating.

One reason for the lack of interest may be the failure of previous plans to successfully address concerns about street level crime.

Anti-Social Behaviour, vandalism, drug and alcohol misuse figure high on many residents list of concerns.

These issues have got worse in sub-urban York since the, so called, “anti-social behaviour hub” was established in West Offices – at a stroke robbing communities of their day to day contact with community constables.

Now the Police are promoting a new “Community Safety Support Team” suggesting that they still haven’t got the message that centralisation isn’t the solution to street level crime problems.

Much of the PCCs new crime plan is waffle. There is a strong undercurrent of ambition – mostly surrounding a planned take-over of Fire and Rescue services. The plan talks about sharing “estates” – a euphemism for downsizing (such as the planned closure of the Acomb Police station)

There are no numeric targets in the plan.

It remains highly unclear how police resources are currently divided between operational and support activities – much less what the future holds.

The approach is reminiscent of the inability of the Police to articulate what effect their, now ubiquitous, speed camera vans have actually had on accident levels (or even average speeds) on monitored roads.

In parts of York, very recently, communication from neighbourhood policing teams has improved.  

Better use is being made of social media channels like Twitter while the police have also launched a Community Messaging service.

This may suggest that, freed from the dead hand of the PCCs Harrogate office, local police forces can indeed engage effectively with local residents.

Police tight lipped about Acomb Police station closure

Acomb Police StationThe Police and Crime Commissioners office (PCC) has refused to reveal details of the proposed move of the Acomb Police station to a new site at Lowfields. They claim “commercial confidentiality” as a reason not to reveal their forward investment programme (other Authorities agree forward capital plans at public meetings).

The PCC does admit that £141,000 was spent in 2013 modernising the existing station on Acomb Road.

The PCC claims that the Police do not hold any notes or the minutes of any meetings which have taken place during the last 2 years at which the expansion or relocation of the Acomb Police Station has been discussed. Nor will they provide details of the costs associated with any proposed changes

The PCCs decision-making process is at best opaque.

A response to an FOI request refers to a decision taken by the PCC in 2015. A report then outlined ways in which around £1.6 million a year will be saved from the police budget by rationalising premises.

Across North Yorkshire, it estimates that total capital costs (including project management costs and costs for digital technologies) would be of the order of £17.6m, and will exceed disposal proceeds (estimated to be £12.4m) by around £5m.

A background paper says that police services will be delivered through three tiers,

  • Tier 1: Core operational hubs; which will typically include essential core police and back office activities including Force Control Room locations, Custody locations, Investigative Hubs and facilities to store and retain property and exhibits.
  • Tier 2: Deployment/Response bases, strategically located across the force to supplement the core operational hubs and provide operational coverage to mitigate Threat, Risk and Harm.   These bases may be shared with other public services.
  • Tier 3: Local community “touchpoints” will provide a range of mechanisms to increase and enhance the opportunity for the public to engage with the police, including mobile police stations, online “real time” contact and community based information points.  These may include mobile Gateway access via either shared multi-agency public access points or virtual access (online/self service).

It is unclear what role any office in Acomb will fulfil although most residents have supported the idea of providing a police contact desk at the Library rather than go through an expensive new build project at Lowfields.

The annexes to the strategy are exempted on “commercial grounds” meaning that taxpayers do not know which police stations could be affected.

This raises suspicions that financial, rather than operational, needs are driving the change process in Acomb

The PCC declines to say which functions any new Police building at Lowfields would be designed to accommodate.  For example it has been suggested that the site will be used for overnight parking.

The FOI response says that “a letter of intent for North Yorkshire Police to work with the City of York Council in respect of the Lowfields site, has been sent to the City of York Council by North Yorkshire Police’s Chief Executive Officer”. The date and content of the letter are not revealed.

Given that it appears that the Police have no idea what kind of facility they hope to build at Lowfields – and at what cost to taxpayers – any letter of intent would seem to be premature.

The PCC has made no attempt to engage with local Councillors or residents on their plans

The PCC is proposing to increase the police precept by 1.99% in April.

PCC FOI response Jan 2017

PCC FOI response Jan 2017

So who really is responsible for the decline in crime prevention in York?

Many residents are becoming frustrated with the decline in public order in the City.

But not so good news later in the week when there were outbreaks of vandalism and graffiti not seen for soem time. The Police and crime Commissioner started an "on line" survey asking residents for their policing priorities.

Recent vandalism reports

While some may put the change down to the “yobfest” culture surrounding the Brexit vote, in reality it is more the lack of high profile policing on our streets that is to blame for the petty crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour we are seeing. So, where does responsibility for community safety lie?

Home Secretary

Currently Amber Rudd MP. Has overall responsibility for policing in the UK. Sets government grant levels and some police conditions (but not local policing priorities)

Police and Crime Commissioner for York and North Yorkshire

Currently Julia Mulligan. A Tory politician directly (re) elected a few months ago, albeit against some pretty poor quality opponents and on a very low turnout. She says she is accountable for “how crime and community safety is tackled throughout the county of North Yorkshire and the City of York”. Currently consulting on a new “Policing Plan” Click here Has a complicated web site but seems to have realised recently that only the use of social media could actually engage people across as large an area as North Yorkshire. Has been criticised for fronting high profile national campaigns – on worthy but minority issues – at the expense of core concerns like neighbourhood crime. Markedly “rural” in her priorities largely ignoring York (which suffers over 30% of reported crime). She recently appointed a Deputy which will significantly increase the expenditure of the PCCs office.

Police and Crime Panel
Vandalism on Chesney's Field

Vandalism on Chesney’s Field

Holds the Commissioner “to account”. Comprised mostly of Tory Councillors. Is supposed to meet in public but you’d be hard pressed to find an evidence that it proactively advertises its meetings (or other activities for that matter). Mainly deals with complaints about the PCC but nods through policing plans, appointments and taxation level proposals The meetings are listed by the County Council web site (click) but not by the City of York Council The last panel meeting did receive a report on reducing Crime and ASB.

Chief Constable

Dave Jones was appointed Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police on 3 June 2013. Has a low profile in York (compared to his predecessor)? Is responsible for deployment of resources and police tactics. Has been criticised for the decision to centralise Anti-Social Behaviour work into the West Offices in York. Ultimately it would be his call whether to reintroduce “community constable” type systems which were very effective in the last decade.

Neighbourhood Policing Teams

Crime increasing, communications reducing

In the past local police and PCSOs have formed part of neighbourhood teams. They regularly used to meet with Ward Councillors, resident’s groups and other agency partners. They do have social media access with the York West team “tweeting” quite regularly (@snayorkwest) Confusingly the neighbourhood policing team for Westfield Ward is now called York South. There are no named officers specialising in the Ward (or any other ward for that matter) although the City centre alcohol economy is clearly a drain on resources.  https://northyorkshire.police.uk/neighbourhoods/york-city-south/  There are no events publicised as taking place in this area. The police used to have surgeries on a regular basis. Now we get the occasional “dot peen” property marking visit. Street level visibility – even for PCSOs – has reduced in recent years

Safer York Partnership

Community Safety Partnerships were formed because of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. Safer York Partnership says it “provides both the strategic direction for community safety and local delivery of community safety outcomes across the city of York. Safer York Partnership has representatives from key voluntary and statutory agencies including City of York Council, North Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, Probation, Public Health and York CVS”

The last “news” on their web site is dated July 2016. Not to be confused with a similar, but even more outdated, web site of a similar name http://www.saferyork.org.uk/

The group meet every three months and their minutes are published on the York Council’s web site click However the meetings are not open to the public, while agendas and supporting papers (e.g. performance reports) are not published.

York Council Executive member with responsibility for “Community Safety”

The York Council’s web site tells us that Cllr David Carr has responsibility for “Alcohol and Drugs Action; Housing; Fraud ; Safer Neighbourhoods; Police liaison; Anti-Social Behaviour; Licensing Enforcement and Licensing Policy, Community Cohesion and Prevent, plus Emergency Planning”.

Sadly, there is little evidence that he has had any impact in any of these policy areas.  Indeed, after 18 months in post, he has yet to hold his first “decision meeting” and there is no record of any action taken to check service standards in the suburban areas or even to talk with local communities about their concerns.

Crime levels increase by 11% in York in one year. 

The figures have been released today by ONS reveal that in the York safer partnership area 11,997 offences were recorded.

This compared to a total of 10.794 in the previous 12 months.

The latest results cover the period to June 2016.

Overall crime in North Yorkshire increased by 6%.white-collar-crime-1

The largest increases were in

  • Bicycle theft up 35%
  • Vehicle offences up 28%
  • Violence up 26% and
  • Non domestic burglary up 25%

There were reductions in

  • Possession of weapons (down 32%)
  • Theft from person (down 19%) and
  • Shoplifting (down 6%)

There was also a small reduction in domestic burglary

The were 408 public order offences recorded in the City.

The figures are bound to increase pressure on the North Yorkshire Crime and Police Commissioner who was criticised for delaying the recruitment of additional police officers because of budget concerns. Those concerns didn’t materialise, leaving the  force under manned. Recruitment has only recently started again.

With a third of all crime in the North Yorkshire area taking place in York, Councillors should be asking for more officers to be allocated to the City and for the tried and tested Community Constable policing model to be brought back.

Community Constables were allocated to specific wards and got to know local residents and neighbourhood crime black spots. The system was abandoned in favour of centralised units around 3 years ago.

In response to a recent survey in the Westfield Ward, only 15% of residents were able to name a neighbourhood Police or Community Support Officer.

crime comparison 2016

ONS crime comparative figures 20th Oct 2016


York and North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner election result

The was no change as a result of yesterdays election.

The result was virtually identical to that seen in 2012.

PCC advice centre


The turnout was slightly higher with 22% voting. However this was influenced by the fact that electors also went to the polls in local elections in two Districts in North Yorkshire.

4 out of 5 electors in York failed to cast their ballot. 

Poor choice for police boss as postal vote forms arrive

Postal votes for the forthcoming Police and Crime Commissioner elections are landing on doormats today.

Most electors will be baffled by the lack of information about the candidates for a post which costs taxpayers £34 an hour

The only source of information is a web site on which very brief manifestos can be viewed. However the official poll cards make no mention that the site even exists much less how to access it.

For the record you can access it by clicking here 

How an elector who does not have internet access will source information about candidates is unclear. They have no way of knowing that a policy comparator is even available
PCC candidates web site

We would have expected the four candidates to have made a bit more effort to address the growing concerns about crime in the county.

Crime levels in York are rising and are now above the average for similar City’s elsewhere in the country.

There are now no Community Constables identified for local neighbourhoods. Having a named police officer as a point of contact for local residents was an important contributor to reductions in crimes like anti social behavior, criminal damage and street level disturbances, which we saw until a few years ago.

Now they are gone and important links with the local community have been broken.

Nor do the candidates have anything to say about issues like road safety although the Tory has come out in favour of more speed cameras.

So it still looks like the farce of the 2012 PCC elections is set to be repeated on May 5th.