Criminal police officers have ‘rocked confidence’ in policing, says new chief

Tim Forber

A ‘small minority’ of criminal police officers have rocked confidence in policing, admits the next chief constable of North Yorkshire Police.

Tim Forber faced councillors in Northallerton this morning before they confirmed him for the £154,000 role.

Mr Forber, who was chosen as the preferred candidate by Tory crime commissioner Zoe Metcalfe, will replace retiring chief constable Lisa Winward.

Policing has been faced several high-profile scandals and events in recent years including the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving officer Wayne Cousins.

An investigation published by the Observer found one in 100 police officers in England and Wales faced criminal charges in 2022, including for sexual offences.

Mr Forber said his biggest challenge in York and North Yorkshire will be to tackle a lack of confidence in officers and added the force is “knackered” if the public has lost faith in them.

He said: “There’s certain events that have rocked confidence in policing and it’s wrong to suggest they’ve been limited to London because they’re not. Any police force that’s not aligned to some of the integrity issues that have undermined confidence in policing will fail very quickly.

“I’m extremely proud to be a British police officer. It saddens me that givens all effort colleagues put in, the actions of a relatively small minority can undermine policing.”

During the hour-and-a-half meeting this morning, he was quizzed by councillors about his 27-year career in policing and how he intends to lead North Yorkshire Police.

He was asked by Conservative councillor Peter Wilkinson how the force will demonstrate value for money to the taxpayer at a time when inflation is high and budgets are being squeezed.

Throughout the meeting Mr Forber highlighted the importance he places on neighbourhood policing but said increasingly crime is happening online where more money should be focused.

He said: “All police forces have to have one eye on future, look at volume of crime committed online. We’ve got to invest more to do tackle that. That will be a real challenge.  Visible policing in communities often gets talked about but the policing in the online space, particularly protecting people from harm, that’s not what the public see.”

Mr Forber has experience working for urban police forces in London and Manchester so was asked by Conservative councillor Heather Moorhouse about crime in North Yorkshire, which can often take place in the countryside and on farms.

He responded by saying “there’s no point pretending” he has extensive experience tackling rural crime but since applying for the role he has spent time researching the problem and speaking to groups such as the National Farmers Union.

Mr Forber said crime such as machinery theft costs the rural economy millions of pounds a year and is largely perpetrated by organised gangs and not “local villains”.

He said: “We will target organised criminals who are ripping the heart out of that economy. I know how important the rural economy is to the people of York and North Yorkshire.”