Call for North Yorkshire commissioner’s resignation is rejected

Police, fire and crime commissioner Zoe Metcalfe Picture: LDRS

A move to press North Yorkshire’s police commissioner to resign, amid claims she has failed in her duty to hold the force’s leadership to account, appears to have been swept aside.

The Opposition leader on North Yorkshire Council, Councillor Bryn Griffiths told a meeting of the authority’s corporate and partnerships scrutiny committee he had issued the notice of motion after hearing Conservative commissioner Zoe Metcalfe’s response to a highly critical inspection of the force.

The Liberal Democrat leader said his Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services reinspection of how the force keeps children safe took place about a year after Mrs Metcalfe was elected as commissioner and that she had ample time to recognise and start tackling some of the issues.

After the report found 14 of the force’s child protection cases were inadequate and eight required improvement, Mrs Metcalfe saiid the force had “let the public and the most vulnerable in our society down”.

In a 1,650-word letter to the committee, Mrs Metcalfe said her “activity is aimed at robustly scrutinising and driving assurance on behalf of the public, to see to it that North Yorkshire Police continues its journey to being exemplary”.

She added she would submit a report to highlight her actions to North Yorkshire and York’s police, fire and crime panel, for its consideration on June 21.

However, Coun Griffiths said the motion was not political, but rather “a failing by the admiral of the fleet, for not keeping control of the captain running the ship”.

He said while the commissioner had spoken of her “surprise” about the report’s findings, it appeared Mrs Metcalfe did not know “what was going on in her own patch”.

Coun Griffiths said: “She was monitoring, she wasn’t managing, she was not in charge of direction for her captain, the chief constable. If oversight had been under control she would have known what was going on she wouldn have been asking the right questions to the right people.

“This police, fire and crime commissioner has not been doing their job.”

Other councillors questioned the commissioner’s performance and whether she had held the force’s senior officers to account sufficiently.

Independent councillor for Hunmanby and Sherburn Michelle Donohue Moncrieff said the motion represented “a very tempting but simplistic answer”, but it was the police’s leadership, rather than solely the commissioner, who needed to be held to account.

She added: “Bearing in mind even if the commissioner did resign, we are running down the clock towards a mayoral combined authority, what net benefit would there be in having a by-election?

“I sometimes feel that she is representing the force to us, rather than us to the force. Some of the things in that report are not acceptable at any level. They need resolving now.”

Conservative colleagues of Mrs Metcalfe highlighted the commissioner was “not the manager of North Yorkshire Police”, but rather was “the public voice” who had “elected oversight” of the force.

Former police officer Councillor Malcolm Taylor called for the committee to take no further action, saying the right body to deal with the matter was the police, fire and crime panel, and instead the commissioner  be invited to address the serious issues highlighted in the report with the committee.

Describing the motion as “wrong-headed” and misguided, another former police officer, Councillor Tim Grogan, said the proposal had wasted the time of the committee.

Ahead of a vote to call the force’s chief constable, Lisa Winward, to answer councillors’ questions, Coun Grogan said the commissioner had turned around the persistent issue of long waiting times for the non-emergency police phone line and if she dealt with the child protection issues as robustly he had every confidence in her.

1 Comment

  1. What a surprise! Conservative majority committee votes to protect another useless Conservative..

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