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Commissioner heralds police transformation ahead of inspection report

Wednesday, 6 March 2024 12:07

By Stuart Minting, Local Democracy Reporter

North Yorkshire's outgoing police commissioner has heralded the transformation of a force, days before the publication of an inspection which is expected to show the service is on the path towards becoming outstanding.

Zoe Metcalfe, whose role is set to end in May following the election of a mayor for the region, said two years of “phenomenal” work by both her team and North Yorkshire Police had seen a remarkable turnaround in which both major crime and antisocial behaviour were being tackled robustly.

Councillors of several political groups praised the Tory commissioner for her actions in turning around the effectiveness and efficiency of the police force, particularly highlighting how neighbourhood policing had been bolstered.

Mrs Metcalfe was appearing before North Yorkshire Council’s corporate and partnerships scrutiny committee to update them on progress since government inspectors found the force wanting in numerous areas.

An HMICFRS inspection in 2022 concluded “senior leaders should ensure they have effective oversight of the force’s enabling services and develop an effective workforce plan so they can provide policing services”.

In a damning criticism, inspectors added the force needed to review its operating model for investigations and protecting vulnerable people, and the resources required to meet those demands.

They also emphasised the force should improve the speed with which it answers and responds to emergency and priority calls.

She said following the critical inspection, which happened a few months before she became commissioner, she had held the chief constable “robustly to account” and had worked to ensure “North Yorkshire Police continues its journey to be outstanding”.

Listing many elements of an extensive overhaul Mrs Metcalfe told the committee how she had moved her office from the prestigious premises overlooking Harrogate’s Stray that the first commissioner, Julia Mulligan, established, to the town’s police station, saving some £80,000 a year to bolster her team and for victims’ services.

She said with extra expertise the commissioner’s office had been overhauled to “continually monitor and assess delivery of outcomes” of her priorities for the force, leading to significantly improved response times and strengthened adult and child safeguarding.

The meeting heard the force’s crime recording backlog had dwindled from 17,500 to 3,500 and all the backlogs in digital forensics had reduced to well below the national average.

She told the meeting the inspectors had lifted their causes for concern over the force and had then had conducted a full inspection at the end of last year.

Mrs Metcalfe said: “I am really excited to see the outcome of that report being published hopefully next week. It’s embargoed so I can’t discuss it, so all I can say at the moment is I am very pleased.

“The force are the service are in a very different, much improved place to where they were in 2022.”

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