A police watchdog has rejected a call for a thorough inquiry into the North Yorkshire police, fire and crime commissioner’s staff policies and governance practices.
Public purse transparency campaigner Gwen Swinburn pressed North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel to investigate the workings of Julia Mulligan’s office as the commissioner appeared before the panel.
Mrs Swinburn, a former local government worker, told members of the panel that she had numerous concerns, such as staff turnover at the commissioner’s office.
She told a meeting of the panel at County Hall, Northallerton: “My overwhelming concern this year has been how the commissioner, despite having apparently 17 staff seems unable to provide the most basic governance service that allows you and us to oversight her.
“I first tried to look at the required transparency for her spending, all items over £500 are to be logged, as you do in North Yorkshire.
“Except the commissioner hasn’t uploaded any since summer last year.
“Then I see all the late reports to this committee, including the finance papers. It cannot be that with the budget papers of all things are late.”
She also described the commissioner’s website as “opaque” and “out of date”.
Mrs Swinburn told members: “I expressed concern last year that the amount of money spent on her futile and irrelevant consultation was insulting.
“Surely there should be an expectation upon her to offer service options attached to her proposed budget options, and that she consults on those?
“Finally chair, there is much discomfort around and about regarding the behaviour of the commissioner, we have seen it in this place but most particularly her treatment of her staff, which seems, perhaps coincidentally, to have an extraordinarily high churn rate.
“I despair when for a small transgression a police constable gets a public hearing.
“In view of all these reasons, and others unstated, is it possible for you to commission a root and branch review of her human resources polices, practices and outcomes including churn, benchmarked against well-run police and crime commissioner’s offices?”
The panel’s chairman, Councillor Carl Les said he did not believe it was in the committee’s remit to conduct a root and branch review of the commissioner’s office.
He said: “There are elements we are looking at. We will continue to have dialogue with the commissioner and her office about these things.
“Notably, the first thing is about the staff survey which is about to be undertaken soon.”
After Mrs Swinburn made the claims Mrs Mulligan did not offer a response.
Following the meeting, the commissioner said a huge amount of work had gone into developing the budgetary proposals, especially given the short timescales her officer had been given to work to.
Mrs Mulligan’s office declined to comment further about Mrs Swinburn’s claims.