The Ma(X)well Factor!

North Yorkshire Police
N.Yorks Police

So the panel of judges have deliberated, finally taken on board the opinion of the public (and chosen to ignore it) prior to delivering their vote… And the winner is???

No one really – Save perhaps the actual panel…

This weeks ‘no confidence’ vote in Grahame Maxwell, the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police, has resoundingly been defeated (see below). However, many would say that (unsurprisingly), the vote was actually rejected for reasons other than those for which it was tabled in the first place?

A motion of no confidence in the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police has been rejected by county councillors…(

I used the word ‘unsurprisingly’ because, like the myriad of TV ‘talent’ shows that have become so popular over recent years, much of our society now is all about ‘image’ and very little about ‘substance’. In addition, image is a quality totally reliant upon and subject to the vagaries of ‘fashion’. That and the fickle nature of those who follow it. It’s a bubble that can burst very quickly, unless you continuously work hard at keeping it inflated.

The most popular individuals on X-Factor and Pop Idol etc haven’t necessarily been the most competent singers or technically able performers. No, as a society we are obsessed with their image and the marketing ability of those individuals. Many of whom fade into the shadows very quickly after their brief period of notoriety and adulation. A period of time that is often governed by how long that persons serves their purpose; in providing financial income and/or status for benefit of another individual or group. The leadership of political parties, business senior management and dare I say it, the heads of public service organisations such as the police, are often broadly similar in their raison d’être.

People in public positions tend to think more about how they are perceived by others than they do about how comfortable they are with their own ethics, personal standards and integrity. After all, if they make a mistake or indulge in some period of impropriety in their life, it’s relatively easy to clean up after the event. They just employ a PR guru to spin a different slant on the facts, and to make them look better in the (blinkered) public eye than they actually are, don’t they? A major reason behind the rise in organisational value, and personal wealth, of individuals like Max Clifford et al.

Speaking publicly after the investigation, Mr Maxwell said it had been a “traumatic period” in his life; to a certain extent I can empathise with him. No one likes to make a hash of things or get things wrong, especially so if you happen to be in the public eye. However, if our society wasn’t so preoccupied with image, perhaps it would have been a little easier for him to hold up his hand and say sorry at the outset of this debacle?

“It’s a period which thankfully has come to an end and realistically it’s one of those things that it’s time to be put behind me and for me to move on and do the job I love, which is being chief constable of North Yorkshire Police.” (Grahame Maxwell)

That said Mr Maxwell has to realise that; the higher up the tree you climb, the further you have to fall if you get it wrong. Losing any grip on the standards and public expectations required (and expected) of that position is not an option. What he did, and subsequently admitted to wasn’t criminal and was probably only a momentary lapse however; a person in his position is employed (and remunerated handsomely) not to make silly mistakes. 

I suspect the original reason behind tabling a motion of no confidence in the Chief Constable was; as much about individual and party politics (or courting public popularity) as it was about the ethics and actions of the Chief.

Obviously such a vote had the potential for similar ones being proposed in other areas of the district and county councils. How long before there was no longer any confidence shared in the political groups and departments, supposedly working together in partnership on our behalf? There was a danger that internal confidence may have suddenly reflected the external one. And that just wouldn’t do in these difficult financial times, now would it?

Perhaps the Liberal Democrat member of cabinet at North Yorkshire County Council actually missed a trick here? What if the ‘no confidence’ motion had been tabled against Mr Maxwell’s employer instead of him? There could have been a motion that said ‘we the members have no confidence in the way in which North Yorkshire Police Authority conducted the Chief Constables disciplinary procedures’. Perhaps that could have served to vindicate council cabinet concern, and go some way towards placating the public and those under Maxwell’s command?

No as usual, the ‘panel’ of ‘judges’ have left the communities within North Yorkshire, and the police officers that serve and protect them, picking up the pieces. Whilst local politicians and police leadership continue with their almost constant quest for public popularity and self-preservation of image, it is the electorate of the county who are left suffering from this whole sorry mess… Come on guys, they really do deserve so much better!

Meanwhile the media continue to report the scale of proposed job losses within the police service across the length and breadth of England & Wales. A slimming process that may have been born out of austerity measures however in reality, they are also a direct consequence of years of political interference and leadership mismanagement. That and the target chasing courting of popularity by many politically motivated and self-interested individuals in and around the policing process.

There will be 34,000 fewer police jobs in England and Wales by March 2015, according to research by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary…(

Policing shouldn’t be about popularity polls and politics, it’s all about doing the right thing, legally but in a manner which is also accountable to the public!

3 thoughts on “The Ma(X)well Factor!

  1. I like the comment over at Allcoppedout in his post ‘Cops Taking Bungs

    All this PR and cosy crud with newspapers has more to do with telling us the chiefs are supermen – for so they are until they fall or just fade away. I doubt one in ten is even any good – we need these image-managers and their lackeys and toadies gone. Police news could be delivered on line very cheaply.


  2. There is an issue here – the HMIC report cannot (for obvious reasons) take into account the impact of Police 7 Crime Commissioners, who will want to increase the number of police officers and also ensure they are trained and equipped properly to enable crime to be reduced……….which will be their only “Performance Target”


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