North Yorkshire police commissioner declines to respond to resignation call

Police, fire and crime commissioner Zoe Metcalfe.

North Yorkshire’s third police fire and crime commissioner has declined to respond to a call for her to resign following a Government watchdog finding some vulnerable children “remain at risk unnecessarily” due to delays in police investigations.

Mrs Metcalfe, who is aiming to be the Tory candidate to be the first North Yorkshire and York elected mayor, said she would not be commenting on a notice of motion lodged by North Yorkshire Council’s opposition leader, Councillor Bryn Griffiths, which is tabled to be considered at a full meeting of the authority on Wednesday.

However, rather than debate the issue at the meeting, one option for the council’s chairman who will preside at the meeting would be to refer the notice of motion to one of the authority’s scrutiny committees for consideration.

The critical Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary report followed its assessment published last year which found the force was “not effectively safeguarding children”.

Last week, at a public accountability meeting Mrs Metcalfe said she had the information she had been provided about the force’s progress over its failings was bogus.

She said: “We were led to believe that North Yorkshire Police were in a better position than they ultimately were and we accept this.

“And as a result, we have entirely overhauled our scrutiny and assurance process, I have clearly set out how I will hold North Yorkshire Police to account for delivery.”

Coun Griffiths said following numerous notices of motion to the authority being postponed to be considered by another committee or the executive and consequently suffering lengthy delays, the call for Mrs Metcalfe’s resignation should be debated at the meeting.

He said the second report, published earlier this month, had examined 33 child protection cases, of which 11 were found to be good, eight required improvement and 14 were inadequate.

He said: “For so many cases to be found inadequate is a damning entitlement not only on the police, but also on the overall management of the force by the police and fire commissioner.

“The police, fire and crime commissioner is elected to be responsible for generally overseeing both police forces and fire services. Clearly has failed and is continuing to fail to hold the North Yorkshire Police force to account and keep the public and in particular children safe.

“Urgent action is therefore needed to remove the existing commissioner immediately and replace with a far more effective manager.”

In response, a spokeswoman for Mrs Metcalfe said the motion was being put to the council “for discussion only, and so we will not be commenting at this time”.

Some of Mrs Metcalfe’s Conservative former colleagues on the authority said they believed the notice of motion was “political” and that they would not be supporting the call for her to resign.

The Tories said those behind calls for Mrs Metcalfe to resign had misunderstood the situation as the reports referred to a time before she was the commissioner.

The body which holds the commissioner to account, the North Yorkshire police, fire and crime panel, has confirmed it will hold an extraordinary meeting in the coming weeks after the new City of York Council administration confirms which of it members will join the watchdog.

It is understood the panel will press the commissioner over what she is doing to ensure residents benefit from the best possible police service.

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