North Yorkshire Police Commissioner says she has been ‘proven to be effective’

Police, fire and crime commissioner Zoe Metcalfe Picture: LDRS

North Yorkshire’s police commissioner has set out a 3,000-word defence of her actions to hold failing police and fire services to account, saying her approach had been proven to be “effective in the public interest”.

Zoe Metcalfe, who was elected to represent North Yorkshire and York’s residents as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner in November 2021, will tell a watchdog examining her response to repeated critical inspections of the services that she would no longer “accept what I am told”.

The Conservative politician’s statement to a meeting of North Yorkshire and York’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel next Wednesday, follows Liberal Democrats at both York and North Yorkshire councillors calling for her resignation, saying she had failed to hold the forces to account.

Critics have claimed Mrs Metcalfe has displayed “a lack of leadership” and failed to uphold her duty to the public as commissioner to ensure effective and efficient services.

Opposition politicians have also claimed she had changed her tone about the services’ failures since announcing her intention to become the area’s first elected mayor in March.

Mrs Metcalfe will tell the first meeting of the panel since the latest critical report was published that from now on she would require regular assurances from the chief constable and chief fire officer work to eradicate failings was on track and for them to provide her with evidence.

The former property business project manager will state she has been “abundantly clear in my public statements and formal responses that I am not satisfied with the performance of North Yorkshire Police in those areas of enduring concern” to government inspectors.

The statement reads: “I will not accept what I am told; my team and I require evidence of transformation in all areas for improvement.

“I would respectfully remind panel members that the approach I have taken to accountability, governance and oversight has proven itself to be effective in the public interest.”

Giving an example to councillors and specialists on the panel, she said there had been “understandable political criticism” after a critical report of the fire service in 2022, but government inspectors had in a revisit report “acknowledged the huge strides that the service has achieved”.

However, the revisit report she refers to states inspectors had found the service had “started to make headway”, but that it remained unclear how effective the action plan would be in fully addressing the causes of concern and if the improvements were sustainable.

Last July, Mrs Metcalfe issued reassurances to the panel that the police force was on track to remedy serious child protection failings revealed by an inspection.

She stopped short of criticising any of the force’s officers over the failings, saying they sometimes happened, despite the best efforts of those with a policing role to safeguard vulnerable youngsters.

In January, government inspectors raised concerns over the North Yorkshire fire service’s effectiveness and its ability to respond to fires.

In response, Mrs Metcalfe issued a 288-word statement which did not refer to any of the specific concerns and paying tribute to “great work being done by firefighters and staff””.

A month later North Yorkshire and York’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel told Mrs Metcalfe the fire service appeared to be on “a downward spiral”.

Nevertheless, the commissioner replied she remained confident, together with the force’s “inspirational” new senior leadership team, about guiding the service into “a strong and sustainable future”.

Nine days after announcing her mayor ambition, responding to a further critical inspection of the police force, the commissioner said she expected immediate improvements.

Last month, following another critical inspection, she said the force had let down society’s most vulnerable and that she would bolster measures to hold police to account.

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