North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan and the Chief Constable, Dave Jones, have today published their Report into payments to former Chief Police Officers of North Yorkshire Police.
It was commissioned to examine the legal basis of Chief Police Officer allowance packages paid by the now defunct Police Authority over the last six financial years.
The Report found that there were some elements paid to former Chief Constable Maxwell and former Deputy Chief Constable Adam Briggs that, although made in good faith at the time, do not appear with hindsight to have been within the legal power of the Police Authority. Last month, this money was asked to be repaid.
Commissioner Mulligan and Chief Constable Jones have now published their decision not to pursue the recovery of approximately £100,000 from Mr Maxwell and Mr Briggs through the courts.
This decision, made jointly by Chief Constable and Commissioner, is based on advice received from specialist Counsel over the past two weeks. The advice clearly states that, in this particular case in North Yorkshire, it would not be worthwhile to take the case to court. Whilst there is a strong argument that the payments did not have a sound basis in law, the cost of going to court and recovering the money would most likely outweigh the amount recovered. Advice has also been received to the effect that we do not have an easily accessible set of comprehensive evidence to compile a case. Both of these issues, specific to North Yorkshire, has led to the decision of the Commissioner and Chief Constable to consider legal action not to be in the public interest, as it would be a poor use of taxpayer’s money. The Chief Constable and Commissioner are also aware this is an untested area of law.
The Commissioner and the Chief Constable are committed to operating with the maximum degree of openness and transparency in their decision-making and accountability. Both are also mindful of the fact that there are other Police & Crime Commissioners who are, or may already be, considering similar issues regarding Chief Officer payments. To publish legal advice in full at this stage may unhelpfully influence those matters and would therefore be against the national public interest. Each Commissioner will be dealing with a separate set of circumstances in each locality and will therefore need specific their own specific legal advice.
Nonetheless, the Report is today being published alongside copies of relevant original documentation that was considered at the time of the Report. These have been redacted to the minimum extent necessary to preserve legal professional privilege on contentious legal issues, and also to remove confidential personal details such as addresses and the names of junior staff.
In the interests of transparency, the Chief Constable and Commissioner are also publishing the full terms of employment for all of the members of the Executive Board, including the Chief Constable, Commissioner and statutory officers. In addition, all the costs incurred by Chief Officers employed within the last 12 months will be published. These will be available on the North Yorkshire Police website as soon as possible.
The report and decision notice from this week’s Executive Board meeting are attached, and can also be viewed on the Commissioner’s website.
Joint statement by Julia Mulligan and Dave Jones:
We are continuing to urge Mr Maxwell and Mr Briggs to pay back taxpayers’ money that they should not have received. We believe there has been an overwhelming public argument put to them to return the funds, the reasons for which are highlighted in the report.
However, at the same time, we have to be pragmatic. At present, our specialist barrister’s clear advice is that the costs of taking this matter to court will outweigh any potential financial payback. This would in effect amount to throwing good money after bad, and we do not think that it is in the taxpayer’s interest.
One of the main obstacles to legal proceedings was the quality of the paperwork, and lack of personnel files, inherited from the Police Authority. Although it remains the Police Authority appeared to act in good faith, it is highly regrettable and frustrating to have inherited this position, and we have taken steps to ensure this cannot happen again. We also have to bear in mind this is an untested area of law, which makes the matter more complex still.
We will be keeping a close eye on developments of other Chief Officer payment reviews in other areas of the country. It must be stated that each area has a unique set of circumstances that may require different actions, and it may well be worth recovering these payments in other police force areas.
We also want to be clear that other serving and recently employed Chief Officers at North Yorkshire Police named in the Report have provided sufficient reassurance regarding medical expenses, and no further action is needed.
To continue with the spirit of openness and transparency, all members of the Executive Board have today published their terms of employment.
Equally importantly, in our opinion, the Review has also highlighted the urgent need to have complete clarity from Government on the rules, regulations and determinations and we urge the Home Secretary to respond to national requests by the Chief Police Officers’ Staff Association (CPOSA), the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and others to do so. It is important for the integrity of the police service as a whole that any grey areas are erased to avoid matters such as these arising again in the future.
We can confirm that all new Chief Officer appointments made since November 2012 do not deviate from national regulations and determinations. These new appointments demonstrate a clear saving to the public purse when compared to previous appointments.
Mark Botham, JBB Chairman, Police Federation added:
We will reserve our comments and judgement until we have seen the explanation provided by the police authority members and their legal advisors some of whom are still involved either in policing or in local politics.
We assume the ‘private’ minutes and agenda papers of police authority meetings will now be opened to the public to allow comment from an informed position.