The ‘Animal Farm’ discipline process?

North Yorkshire Police

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As I’ve said previously; robust accountability measures in any public service (not least the police), will always be required. They are an important and instrumental factor in supporting high levels of public trust in that service. So as we receive the results of one such accountability process, extensively commented upon in both local and national media, I am initially heartened that the Independent Police Complaints Commission were minded to investigate the allegations raised in the first place…

The wait is over and Grahame Maxwell, the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police, has finally admitted gross misconduct at a hearing into allegations about him giving assistance to a member of his extended family during a recruitment exercise run by the force last year.

Firstly I have to say; it makes a refreshing change to see such a high-ranking British police officer actually admit their wrongdoings or mistakes, it doesn’t happen very often. And secondly, being something of a cynic, I expect the admission was born out of being caught ‘bang to rights’ as they say. It’s a ploy often adopted by crooks looking to lessen their ultimate sentence likely to be imposed for the crime they committed… It appears to have worked?

Since the original allegations were raised, Mr Maxwell has vehemently denied any wrongdoing at every opportunity, until he appeared before the investigation panel yesterday that is, hence my cynicism.

IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: “The Chief Constable and his Deputy are the two most senior officers in the force and are supposed to lead by example and set the standards for others to follow. They chose to circumvent systems that had been put in place to benefit people they knew, while others were expected to follow the process. CC Maxwell’s initial defence was that his actions were ‘direction and control’, essentially saying he could do what he wanted because he was the Chief Constable. That is an unacceptable attitude from such a senior officer. It is to be welcomed that CC Maxwell now acknowledges and has admitted his gross misconduct… (Read more)

The scathing comments of the IPCC not with standing, the final punishment for the ‘offence(s)’ was only a simple ‘written warning’, not unlike that received by the police constable involved in the incident, and broadly similar to the ‘management advice’ metered out to Adam Briggs, the then Deputy Chief Constable however, two members of police staff were actually dismissed from their post.

I know it’s a point I’ve raised in the past however; it really is time for discipline investigations to challenge the laws of gravity and remove some of the disparity in application. In the Animal Farm of today’s police discipline process, how long do we accept the prevailing ethos; all are created equal however, some are more ‘equal’ than others?

I am one of the many that believes we should all be equal under the law however, I’m also of the opinion that the higher up the ladder of leadership one progresses, the more responsibility you have for displaying even greater levels of professionalism. After all, you are the leader and your workforce should be able to follow and look up to your for example. It’s one of the fundamental reasons behind higher levels of remuneration and other financial allowances. Public money that should only be paid to those proven to be worthy of receiving it, persons who are capable of that honesty, integrity and those who are fully able to carry those levels of responsibility for which it is offered.

I would suggest that Mr Maxwell appears to have failed in many of those areas of requirement. Despite the fact he was previously held in high esteem by many of his peers, it appears he has thrown to the wind any public confidence he may previously have held. In addition, I suspect there is little or no confidence in his leadership remaining within the workforce. For those reasons I’m not alone when I suggest his current position is no longer tenable and he should leave.

The greater problem is as ever; we will have another police force reeling under the failings of the outgoing chief officer, a workforce that is left to pick up the pieces and try to rebuild public confidence whilst providing an affective and professional service.

Prospective applicants for Mr Maxwell’s (or any Chief Constable’s) job please take note; a police force and its staff are not your personal playthings to do with as you will, they actually belong to the community they serve!

PS. The Yorkshire Post set up a poll asking; Should the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire step down? It is interesting that over 94% of respondents replied YES!

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About Dave Hasney

National Coordinator for UK SMART Recovery - Previously a Recovery Worker and prior to that a Management Consultant and H&S Practitioner - Kept sane by Angling, Good Food, Real Ale & Wine - Cynical thoughts sometimes developed from others.

Posted on 10-05-2011, in Leadership & Management, Police and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Gadget Note: “If any officer admitted gross misconduct in Ruralshire Constabulary at the moment they would be out. Disciplinary panels are sacking anyone handed to them on a plate by PSD at the moment, to help meet the numbers of staff they need to cut. But then, not everyone is a Chief Constable. Disgusting, predictable and wrong.

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  2. Maxwell has only done what all the others are doing. He should go, but is hardly the worst offender. I’m more concerned that the complaints system doesn’t work at all on what matters.

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  1. Pingback: Nasty smell lingers at Police HQ… « The Bankside Babble

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