Police Commissioner poll to go ahead in May

The government has said that elections for regional Police and Crime Commissioners WILL take place in May. The elections were cancelled last year as a result of the pandemic.

Locally Commissioner Julia Mulligan continued in office for another year. She had already been de-selected as a candidate by the Conservative Party.

Candidates will wear masks!

Details of the governments plan can be read here. They indicate how processes will change in order to avoid the spread of infections.

Although electors can still vote in person, most are expected to take advantage of the option of using a postal vote. There will also be a last minute option for anyone to appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf if they are tested positive for COVID-19.

There is a requirement for everyone participating in the process to wear a face mask.

The government has controversially instructed candidates and their supporters not to leaflet or canvass for support. They will be able to use “on line” publicity and – paid for – deliveries using approved suppliers such as Royal Mail. Whether candidates will be able to afford to use that option is another matter.

Only 1 in 5 electors actually voted when PCCs last went to the polls in 2016.

The post may be abolished anyway within the next 2 years if the government presses ahead with its plan to replace them with “elected mayors”.

Some are betting that this poll will attract a record low turnout!

Cycling for health

The North Yorkshire Police Commissioner Julia Mulligan opened a can of worms yesterday when she criticised leisure cyclists for the impact they were having on “villages”.

Cycle sports not ideal for social distancing!

Perhaps an understandable comment if groups of 20+ riders were zooming through villages “en mass” at speeds of over 30 mph.

The Commissioner’s comments was widely condemned by cycling campaigners.

The reality is that most cyclists are riding alone on quiet roads while taking the governments recommended daily exercise quota.

Few stop in villages which are all now much quieter since motor vehicle traffic substantially reduced.

We doubt if most villagers even notice the cyclists although their numbers may slightly up.

Around York, some cyclists have abandoned dedicated cycle paths like the links from York to Selby & that from Rufforth to Knapton.

The reason paradoxically is a sort of congestion.

The routes have become increasingly popular with walkers. Family groups with children and dogs can make social distancing difficult on paths which have very limited widths in places.

On the other hand, quiet country lanes are relatively safe, ideal for leisure cycling and a great way to keep fit.

NB. The number of people in the UK dying from heart and circulatory diseases before the age of 75 is rising for the first time in 50 years, the British Heart Foundation has said.

In 2017, 42,384 people died from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK before the age of 75, a rise of just over three per cent on the 41,042 in 2014. Among under-65s, there were 18,668 deaths in 2017, up almost 4 per cent on the 17,982 five years earlier.

Tam Fry, from the campaign group the National Obesity Forum, said: “This must make Whitehall sit up and take tackling obesity seriously though each government this century has made just that a priority.

North Yorkshire Police to discuss increase in crime levels tomorrow

A meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) will hear how the  Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner intends to tackle an increase in crime levels in the area.  The meeting will be told that there some 3837 crimes reported during September.

Across the whole of North Yorkshire, including York, the Guildhall Ward had the largest number of crimes (212).

 In York it was followed by Huntington (91) and Westfield (79).

The largest proportion of crimes in York relate to violence (457), followed by theft (390), arson/criminal damage (153) and burglary (120). Perhaps surprisingly only 47 drug offences were reported.

Overall across the county there has been a 2.5% increase in crime levels this year so far compared to 12 months ago. Over the last two years the increase has been 16%. The biggest increase has been in public order offences. Violence against the person offences have increased from 5504 in 2017 to 7747 this year (up 40%)

There has been an increase in shoplifting in York this year. Recorded anti-social behaviour has however shown a reduction (-17%)

The scale of the problems with the Police switchboard are revealed.

222 calls to 999 were abandoned during August.

 There is a similar picture on 101 calls where 6050 were abandoned during July.

Time to answer on both channels improved during September.

The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and police staff deserve credit for producing figures which can be accessed via the web. Click here   The sheer size of the county, and its diversity, make it difficult to produce performance stats which are both accessible and relevant to local neighbourhoods.

There is some good work going on at neighbourhood level with police in west York proactively checking security issues this week

There will, however, be niggling doubts about some aspects of crime prevention.

Lack of reports of drug related crime is probably not the right way to access the scale of that issue.

Equally worrying is the failure of the force to recruit up to its budgeted staff numbers. There were estill over 30 vacancies for police officers in the force in September. The police don’t expect to hit their target number (1450 officers) until December. There are also 36 vacancies for PCSOs.

Performance stats for the Fire service can be viewed by clicking here

Crime survey started

click to go to survey

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has started an “on line” survey which she says is aimed at getting residents views about neighbourhood policing.

In some ways this is well timed as the summer period invariably brings a peak in some forms of crime – notably anti-social behaviour.

We have already seen an escalation in complaints about the “mad moped” brigade while environmental crime (e.g. dumping, dog fouling) are still at high levels. However, they are yet to reach the heights seen last year when the police presence was very low.

Since then there has been a gradual and welcome improvement with more patrols by PCSOs evident.

The survey begins by asking about satisfaction with a range of public services. There will be a suspicion that this will be to allow the PCC to say that the quality of policing is more highly rated than, say, road maintenance. The real comparison is with historical performance.

The effectiveness of policing  has never been the same in sub-urban parts of York since anti-social behaviour activities were centralised into a “hub” at West Offices. Almost overnight communication channels between residents and named police officers were broken, losing a valuable channel of information about the causes of crime and those responsible.  The boundaries of the neighbourhood policing units seem to have been in a constant state of flux.

Lists of local officers need to be regularly updated and included on public noticeboards, social media pages etc.

The local activities web page for York South famously is only updated a couple of times a year, although there are many more things going on than are publicised.

The survey fails to probe whether residents have confidence in the criminal justice system in its entirety. Many reported crimes go undetected while courts seem to lack effective powers to deter repeat offences.

The police seem reluctant to publish performance stats at a neighbourhood level. Information is available at https://www.police.uk/ but accessing it is awkward. Residents Associations no longer routinely receive information. Many Neighbourhood Watch organisations have folded in recent years.

We hope that the results of the survey will be published at neighbourhood level.

With crime levels on the rise, Crime Commissioner offers to meet residents in Acomb

Residents from Acomb, York and the surrounding area have their chance to their raise concerns about policing or community safety issues when the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, Julia Mulligan, comes to Acomb on Thursday 12 April.

The appointment based surgeries will take place between 3.00pm, and 5.00pm at Acomb Parish Church hall, Front Street, Acomb YO24 3BX, giving residents the opportunity to raise personal or private issues, good or bad, on a one to one basis. Surgeries are by appointment only.

If you would like to book some time with Julia – or for further information about other Surgeries – please call 01423 569 562 or email info@northyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk


Police commissioner spends over £141,000 on fire service takeover bid

Costs have been revealed concerning the Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) bid to take over responsibilities for overseeing the Fire Service in North Yorkshire.

It has been revealed that Julia Mulligan has spent £141,437.50 on consultants in order to put her business case together, exceeding her budget by over £12,000 in the process.  The revelations come after Councillors on the Police and Crime Panel were issued with a last minute briefing paper from the PCCs office.

Cllr Ashley Mason, Vice Chair of the Panel and Liberal Democrat Councillor for Dringhouses and Woodthorpe, initially queried the costs earlier in the year, but was informed the details were commercially sensitive.

Cllr Ashley Mason said:

“I was astonished to learn how much the PCC had spent on this takeover bid. I was even more surprised to see that these costs are solely for the external consultants and marketers. The costs do not include the large amount of staff time her office put into the campaign and only £88,000 can be claimed back from the Home Office.

This is totally unacceptable and the money would have been better spent in employing more control room staff to address the failings in 101 services, or on local PCSOs, with numbers reducing in York.

The Commissioner has some serious issues to tackle within the police, who have recently fallen in their rating by the Inspectorate of Constabularies’ from ‘Good’ to ‘Requires Improvement.”




Lowfields residents form action group to oppose playing field development

save-lowfields-playing-fields-tiltA new residents action group has written to Executive Councillors asking them to oppose development on a school playing field at a meeting tomorrow.

Residents had been told by the Council that only the built footprint of the old Lowfields school site, would be developed but that promise now seems likely to be broken.

A petition has been sent to the Council.

Residents are threatening to refer the matter to the Ombudsman as officials have not reported the results of a door to door survey of opinion, taken in the autumn, to tomorrows meeting. The survey had revealed strong opposition to the development of the playing field.

Questions have also been raised about to the role of the NHS and Police Commissioner in the plan which involves the relocation of a local GP surgery and the re-siting of Acomb Police station.

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.