The Crawford Report – Another WYOPCC whitewash?

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Page last updated Monday 8th June 2014 at 1320hrs

After sustained criticism of the Professional Standards Department (PSD) of West Yorkshire Police – much of it emanating from this website  – an inquiry into the running of the discredited complaints investigation squad was announced in a blaze of press glory in July 2013.

The thrust of the newspaper coverage was that an independent inquiry into police’s handling of misconduct cases would be launched and could trigger a radical overhaul of the way allegations against the force are dealt with.

Catherine Crawford (pictured top centre), the former Chief Executive of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), itself no stranger to police corruption scandals, said she looked forward to presenting her findings “as soon as I am satisfied I have completed a thorough, rigorous and objective review”.

She added: “The process of assembling the information and evidence which will inform my review of the conduct and complaints procedure used by West Yorkshire Police is now well in hand and this piece of work is continuing to move forward with purpose.”

The inquiry was set up within a few weeks of the pronouncement by Cindy Butts (pictured top left), the largely-absent Independent Police Complaints Commissioner for West Yorkshire (and a former Metropolitan Police Authority colleague of Ms Crawford’s) that the Force was “ripe for some improvements around how it deals with professional standards”. Ms Crawford had left the MPA suddenly and without working any notice in July 2012. That unusual departure has never been publicly explained. Ms Butts provides oversight in West Yorkshire from her desk in London on three working days per week.

Figures obtained from the IPCC show that the police watchdog dealt with more appeals about West Yorkshire Police’s handling of complaints than the three other Forces in the region combined (. In 2011/12, the last period where statistics are available, there were 819 complaints recorded against the force and 272 appeals about how complaints were dealt with. The IPCC upheld 42 per cent of completed appeals, higher than the average for forces nationally.

uPSD are aware that complaints against the police have risen very sharply in the 2013/14 year just ended with a total of just under 1,000 being recorded. That information would have been readily available to Ms Crawford but she has elected to omit it.

The Crawford Report was also, colourfully, described in the newspaper reports, and on the WYOPCC website, as a “root and branch” inquiry into the way complaints and officer conduct matters are investigated by their own Force.  This, surprisingly, was against a backdrop of Mark Burns-Williamson stating forcibly, and repeatedly, during the campaign which saw him elected as Commissioner that “there was no corruption in West Yorkshire Police”. The independent candidate, retired detective Cedric Christie, who polled the second highest vote count (beating well known Conservative and Liberal ex-Police Authority candidates in the process) stood on a single election platform which was to eliminate the corruption that Burns-Williamson said didn’t exist. (See Christie election flyer here)

Notwithstanding Burns-Williamson’s election pronouncements, the Crawford Review was trumpeted in six months after the poll, against a backdrop of damning revelation, after damning revelation, of serious misconduct and/or criminality against officers of West Yorkshire Police. Often, at a very senior level. The most high-profile of these were the Jimmy Savile and Sir Norman Bettison scandals, the PC Danny Major, John Elam and Colin Norris miscarriages of justice, the cover-up of the Mark Camm death after custody, the infamous Karl Chapman supergrass Supreme Court ruling (commonly known as Operation Douglas) and a damning Devon and Cornwall Police outside force investigation into more corrupt practices within WYP. A report that both Chief Constable Gilmore and the Police Commissioner have chosen to bury out of sight.

There is also now the ever-present factor of the nationally-known unProfessional Standards (uPSD) website which has exposed many more cases of serious West Yorkshire police officer failings – and hangs like a dark cloud over Burns-Williamson and the Chief Constable.

The majority of these failings happened on Burns-Williamson’s watch as West Yorkshire Police Authority Chairman, during a term which ran from 2003 to 2012: For example, he was the prime mover in ensuring the return of Bettison as Chief Constable in 2006 and recruited the now thoroughly discredited Fraser Sampson as his Chief Executive – and retained him after the PCC election despite serious concerns about his competence/integrity already resting on Police Authority files. Burns-Williamson was complicit in the decision to use Jimmy Savile in advertising campaigns for West Yorkshire Police one year after serious allegations were made concerning Savile’s activities as a serial paedophile/rapist and also authorised the payments of over £3 million to fund the external police force investigation into the aforementioned Operation Douglas supergrass scandal. Read more here.

The Terms of Reference document which underpinned the Crawford inquiry (view the document in full by clicking here) said recommendations for a “new approach” would be made, but also included the highly significant restriction: “It should be carefully noted that this is not a review of historical/extant cases or a re-investigation of any complaints and conduct matters.” Which was the first major clue that this review/inquiry was nothing more than another Mark Burns-Williamson/Fraser Sampson “whitewashing” exercise.

These Terms of Reference, which set out as their main purpose, “To conduct a strategic review of the arrangements for and the approach to the way in which complaints and conduct matters are handled by the West Yorkshire Police to ensure integrity and to restore public trust and confidence in policing across West Yorkshire” went on to say that Ms Crawford would “consider the respective legal responsibilities” of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and the Chief Constable in dealing with complaints and conduct matters, as well as the role of the nationally discredited IPCC: Which was quite extraordinary, given that Ms Crawford is not a lawyer, but the officer setting the Terms of Reference, Fraser Sampson, is a qualified solicitor specialising in the police misconduct field – and paid very handsomely for providing legal advice to the Police Commissioner (cost to the taxpayer circa £140,000 pa).

The long-awaited Crawford Report was eventually published in March 2014 (for full Report click here) and it was, to put it bluntly, a failure on every level. This is uPSD’s overview of the Report from the documents supplied to them.

1. It didn’t meet its Terms of Reference, could not by any stretch of the imagination be described as a “root and branch” investigation and, most certainly, lacked any indication of the promised thoroughness and rigour.

2. It lacked any sense of independence from either the police force being inquired into or the PCC office who had commissioned it.

3. Even taking account of its strategic remit, the inquiry was at best superficial on every level

4. Evidential product was lacking almost in its entirety. Assertions made by senior West Yorkshire Police officers are accepted as gospel, without any reference to known material in the public domain that would either devalue their statements or render them worthless.

5. The contributors were hand-picked and unlikely to offer any challenge to the status quo. The exception to that generalisation is likely to have been Nick Gargan, Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police, whose Operation Vertex investigation (from allegations originated by uPSD) roundly criticised the West Yorkshire force. It is, perhaps, unfortunate that shortly afterwards Gargan was sensationally suspended from duty amid allegations of sexual impropriety towards fellow police officers.

6. Of the 20 contributors only four were members of the public – out of an electorate of 1.61 million. The full list of a very weak collection of contributors can be viewed by clicking here.

7. It completely ignored the presence of the uPSD website which now extends to 126 pages of material that damns the monumental failings of the Professional Standards Department of West Yorkshire Police on every level.

8. Although its remit was not to re-open historic or extant cases, the failure to even mention any of them and identify where the failings were, and how they are being addressed to avoid future calamities, is the single biggest failing of the inquiry/report. They cannot simply be airbrushed from history on the whim of the Mark Burns-Williamson.

9. The shameless advertising plug for the Police National Legal Database (PNLD) by Ms Crawford further undermines the independence and good standing of the report. PNLD is riven with internal strife, a very credible whistleblower/insider tells uPSD their databases are riddled with errors and there is a quite astonishing example of rank incompetence in the much-vaunted (by Ms Crawford) PNLD already in the public domain. Read more here and, after doing so, judge for yourself whether this is a service that should be foisted on other PCC’s and/or police forces.

10. The overall weakness of the Report will create more problems for the Force and the PCC, in the short and medium term, as more embarrassing revelations come to light. The first of those was the front page newspaper story on 9th April 2014 (read here) featuring a recent and quite atrocious PSD report signed off by DCI Osman Khan (a contributor to the Report) who is, additionally, very well known to uPSD followers as a Rogue PSD Officer (read here). The second was another significant newspaper piece on 21st April 2014 which highlighted the extended scope and reach of the West Yorkshire Police Professional Standards cover-up of  the wrongful jailing of ex-PC Danny Major . The Greater Manchester Police investigation, known as Operation Lamp, has now been extended for a third time and the report that will conclude the probe will send shockwaves throughout the police service. The third was a shocking and damning report into PSD failings over the way it investigates racial discrimination complaints. This was how it was reported in the Yorkshire Post (click here)

uPSD set out below their detailed analysis of the above overview:

The letter from Catherine Crawford to Mark Burns-Williamson enclosing the Report can be read in full by clicking here.

More to follow….

The Crawford Report

More to follow…..

Appendix 1 – Terms of Reference

View the document in full by clicking here

Appendix 2 – Contributors

The full list of contributors can be viewed by clicking here.

Chief Constable Mark Gilmore, so typical of the spin over substance policemen (and women) who populate the ACPO ranks these days, was inexplicably selected for the role by Burns-Williamson over the much more experienced and better qualified Phil Gormley. Already a Chief Constable of another Force, and a former Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Gormley now heads up the National Crime Agency. The working hypothesis is that Gormley might have been prone to asking too many questions or looking too hard at where/how the criminal elements within the upper reaches of West Yorkshire Police operated. Gilmore is largely invisible, but when he does pop his head over the ramparts it is all too easy to shoot his cap off. He claims to set the highest standards for his officers and has brought about great change in the culture and attitudes in the organisation. uPSD, from knowledge of specific interactions with Gilmore, can state with absolute certainty that is a lie. His own standards of professionalism are poor and he is notably weak at grasping issues and dealing with them. More public examples of that assertion are the nationally discredited Operation Newgreen report which, along with Burns-Williamson, he “welcomed” and the atrocious decision not to prosecute Command Team member, ACC Mark Milsom who, inconveniently, ran a red light and then drove a police BMW X5 into the side of a bus in Leeds City Square. Read full Yorkshire Evening Post story here.

C/Supt Marc Callaghan who self-styles on his Facebook profile as “Big Boss Hogg” was a central figure in the disability discrimination case brought by ex PC Mick Amos that, according to a Police Federation “mole” was conceded in mediation by the Force and resulted in substantial damages being paid to the former constable. Callaghan is also centrally involved, along with the above mentioned DCI Osman Khan, in the sustained cover-up of the police assaults on Wakefield businessman Anthony Ramsden which has achieved national notoriety. Another cover-up of Callaghan’s is due to be aired on network television in June 2014 which will feature footage of an assault and criminal damage by a West Yorkshire officer on Huddersfield businessman, Stephen Bradbury. Callaghan determined that no criminal action should be taken against DC Shaun Hurd and downgraded disciplinary action to the minimum “words of advice”. Hurd now faces the prospect of a private prosecution for threatening behaviour, criminal damage and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Deputy PCC, Isabel Owen (pictured above right) was forced to, humiliatingly, admit to the West Yorkshire Police & Crime Scrutiny Panel that she didn’t know anything about policing matters when she was appointed, yet was selected by Ms Crawford as a contributor to her “root and branch” inquiry. Other than the inclusion of some easily recognisable Labour Party/OPCC spin doctrine and jargon phraseology in the outcome materials, it is hard to see what possible contribution “Izzy” could have made.

As mentioned above, Nick Gargan is now suspended from his post as Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police pending an investigation into sexual harassment allegations.

Appendix 3 –Police National Legal Database. Crawford’s advertising piece for the PNLD can be read in full by clicking here. Any attempt to foist a defective service, staffed by a team who feud with one another in a most unattractive and persistent manner, is almost tantamount to fraud on the part of Ms Crawford. Did she not discern the poisonous atmosphere on the top floor of the PCC/PNLD HQ wher

A recent FoI request to WYOPCC regarding PNLD can be seen in full by clicking here.

The Burns-Williamson Response to the Crawford Report can be read in full by clicking here. This piece of flagrant puffery “welcomes” the Crawford report that looked at nothing, found nothing and said next door to nothing except that the PCC office needs more staff to do even more of nothing concerning the public’s complaints – except fob them off. Burns-Williamson is used to welcoming poorly executed “whitewash” reports as he famously proved with the nationally discredited and derided Operation Newgreen outcome.

What the Report didn’t investigate or find

  1. Access to complaints gateways repeatedly blocked
  2. Complaints not recorded fully or properly by PSD
  3. Anonymous emails are routine from PSD or Divisional Standards Units
  4. No evidence taken from complainants side is standard investigative practice
  5. No 28 day updates given to complainants
  6. Police Reform Act, Police Conduct Regulations and IPCC Statutory Guidance not followed.
  7. Association of Police Authorities roles of Sampson Burns-Williamson (and Crawford herself) and lobbying on “new” legislation, Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011
  8. No procedure for complaining about OPCC Chief Executives other than to PCC

 

How much has the Crawford Report cost and was it money well spent?

If the Crawford Report had cost only £1 it would still have been a complete waste of money. uPSD have good reason to believe that it cost nearer to £100,000 than £1 and was quite simply another exercise in cronyism designed only to paper over alarming cracks in Burns-Williamson’s favourite edict that “there is no corruption in West Yorkshire Police”. Thankfully, the strategy failed and the Crawford exercise has been subject to wide derision and almost immediate derogation with the regional and national press revelations within days and weeks of the publication of her Report.