‘Human rights considerations’ delay release of Yorkshire police chief’s conduct report

Former West Yorkshire chief Constable Mark Gilmore.
Former West Yorkshire chief Constable Mark Gilmore.
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Human rights considerations are among the reasons why the report into the conduct of West Yorkshire’s former chief constable Mark Gilmore has yet to be published five months on, the county’s crime commissioner has revealed.

Mr Gilmore, who was told last year that he had no criminal case to answer in relation to the allegedly corrupt award of police vehicle contracts in his native Northern Ireland, announced his retirement on August 9.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said the five-figure sum will be invested in his Safer Communities Fund. Pic: Andrew McCaren/Ross Parry.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said the five-figure sum will be invested in his Safer Communities Fund. Pic: Andrew McCaren/Ross Parry.

This was two weeks after an independent Lancashire Police report into his conduct was received by police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson on July 26. The report has yet to be made public, despite claims the delay is damaging public confidence.

Mr Burns-Williamson told a scrutiny panel meeting last week said he wanted to publish the report early next year but the process of deciding what to release had been made “extremely difficult” because of “legal representations that have been made to me”.

He said: “We are still going through some very tricky legal considerations, human rights as well, it was only yesterday that I had a further discussion about this.

“It is my intention to publish what I can. Not only with yourselves but publicly. What I am not going to do is make a decision without taking all that into consideration.

We are still going through some very tricky legal considerations, human rights as well.

Mark Burns-Williamson

“When I look elsewhere than our current legal issues there are decisions probably being taken more quickly than what they should have been.”

Mark Gilmore was suspended from his role as chief constable of West Yorkshire Police in June 2014 amid an investigation into the allegedly corrupt award of police vehicle contracts in his native Northern Ireland.

Although he was told he had no criminal case to answer last April and the suspension was lifted, Mr Gilmore became the subject of a misconduct investigation by Lancashire Police and never returned to his post.

An independent report from Lancashire Police was received by Mr Burns-Williamson on July 26 and Mr Gilmore’s retirement was announced on August 9.

Picture Police crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson giving a press conference in Wakefield regarding the suspension of Chief Constable Mark Gilmore.
Andrew McCaren/Rossparry.co.uk

Picture Police crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson giving a press conference in Wakefield regarding the suspension of Chief Constable Mark Gilmore. Andrew McCaren/Rossparry.co.uk

It later emerged that he was able to retire despite facing misconduct allegations at the time, because changes to police procedures stopping this from happening only came into force after the allegations were raised.

After his suspension was lifted last year following the decision by prosecutors in Northern Ireland, Mr Gilmore has been working on a “transition project” for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the successor body to the Association of Chief Police Officers.

The staff association representing senior officers said in May that he “remains committed to serving the communities of West Yorkshire” and wants the matter to be “resolved as soon as possible”.

Mr Burns-Williamson gave an update on the publication of the report after being questioned by Jo Sykes, an independent member of the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel.

Ms Sykes said: “There is still the outstanding issue around the release of information contained within the report around the former chief constable.

“I fully appreciate that there are a range of confidential issues you are having to consider, but one of the things the panel are keen to see is the outcomes that are appropriate for our panel’s consideration and also lessons learned and the opportunities for change within the force moving forward, so we can see some potential positive outcomes.

“It is just to flag up that it is of major interest to the panel because it is something that has impacted on your resources over the last two-plus years.”