The North Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel complaints sub-committee has published a report which looks into a number of complaints against North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Julia Mulligan, about staff relations.
The PCC has hit back at the report and now has 21 days to respond.
Councillor Peter Wilkinson of Hambleton District Council and chair of the sub-committee said:
Our role is both to support and challenge the Commissioner and throughout this process we have undertaken to be as fair and robust as possible.
Our findings and recommendations are based on careful deliberation of all the material that has been provided to us.
The Commissioner has been invited to respond formally to our report within 21 days.
The complaint was from a member of the PCC’s staff and it alleged that in the course of their employment with the PCC, they had been subjected to bullying behaviour by the PCC.
- Demonstrating consistent disrespect, for example by making negative – sometimes humiliating – comments about complainant’s work, both to the complainant’s directly and in front of colleagues;
- Ignoring the complainant’s views and opinions, for example by consistently refusing to make eye contact and preventing AB from finishing speaking in meetings;
- Withholding information which would have better enabled the complainant to perform effectively within the role; failing to provide clear guidance on pieces of work;
- Undermining the complainant with constant criticism and abusing power or position through an overbearing approach;
- Lack of constructive feedback or guidance from the PCC – including the lack of a performance review – to enable complainant to develop within the role.
The report noted that the PCC may not have deliberately set out to bully the complainant, but the behaviours as perceived by both complainant and the supporting individuals exemplify characteristics of bullying behaviour as set out in the OPCC’s own guidance on bullying.
The report continues and comments that the fact that there are multiple accounts gives cause for concern that there is – or has been – an endemic issue around the perception of bullying within the organisational culture, which needs to be addressed.
The accounts presented suggest that the perceived behaviour experienced by these individuals was below the standard that should be expected and therefore the Panel wishes to make recommendations to receive assurances of how this standard is being met.
To read the full report
The report makes a number of recommendations
- The PCC commissions a baseline survey of staff – via an independent body
- The findings of the staff survey would further be shared with the Panel, along with any action plan agreed by the PCC as a result.
- The PCC is advised to reflect upon the complaints and to undertake a management and leadership development programme
- The PCC is advised to draw on the support of a mentor
- In further discharging the support and challenge role, it is recommended that the PCC updates the Panel on a six-monthly basis
- PCC respond in writing within 21 days to the recommendations made by the Sub-Committee.
Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said:
I am shocked at the approach the Panel has taken in assessing this complaint, and in its findings. I am particularly disappointed in the lack of references and attention paid to the extensive evidence I provided in response to this complaint. This included evidence supplied by the Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer, contemporaneous letters from two former employees, supporting emails and an independent report into specific areas of performance substantiating the evidence supplied.
It is also important to understand what Police and Crime Commissioners can and cannot do. PCCs are by law not responsible for line management of any staff – they are a ‘legislative island’. However, as an individual, I take my duty of care to my staff extremely seriously. It is therefore unfortunate that the Panel has not recognised the difference between myself as a person, and that of the legal office I hold. Nor have they acknowledged the significant attempts I made to ensure staff were supported, to the point where I overstepped my remit and personally attempted to intervene to better support them. I therefore entirely accept that in this case, the performance management framework was not adequate, and that a lack of a formal performance review was a significant failing. Before, and since AB left the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), a huge amount of work has been done to support other staff impacted and the Panel can be assured from the evidence supplied that performance processes are in place. In addition, as the Panel knows, there is a clear ‘whistleblowing’ mechanism, to ensure staff can be heard.
My motive in everything I do, is to help ensure the people of North Yorkshire receive the best possible service. I take great pride in the service my hard-working team offer to the public. It’s not perfect and there have been some issues, but they are a great team, who share my drive to support the public. I therefore do not recognise any ‘systemic’ issues within the OPCC. Throughout this process I have offered to meet with the Panel so they could ‘investigate’ matters – no door has been closed. In the spirit of openness and transparency under which I approach every aspect of my work, I again offer this to the Panel. To draw the conclusions they have, given all the above, is regrettable and disappointing and were there a mechanism to appeal, I would certainly do so.
On the recommendations themselves, I am happy to consider them, but I would need considerable reassurance that the matter will be dealt with fairly and constructively, not least on behalf of my staff. The offer therefore remains open for the Panel to come to the office and speak to whomever they like.
It also very much needs to be said that I have an excellent team who work extremely hard to support me, but more importantly, the public. A lot is expected of them, and on a daily basis they deal with challenging and sensitive issues, very often supporting vulnerable people at very difficult times in their lives. This can be hard, and I thank them for it.
On a personal note, since this report came to light, a huge amount of support has been extended to me, for which I am hugely grateful. People do not recognise the picture painted by the report, but this is clearly a time to pause and reflect, which I will do. However, on behalf of the public, I will continue to ask a lot of people, and I am sure they will continue to do their very best.