Police commissioner avoids face-to-face meeting with furious public
North Yorkshire’s beleaguered crime commissioner will not meet his critics in person at a meeting next week – after a make-or-break meeting was moved online.
Nearly 9,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Philip Allott to resign as North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner over his Sarah Everard comments.
And his office has been inundated with more than 800 complaints.
He will appear before the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel on Thursday (14 October) where he will face a grilling by the public.
This was originally due to be an in-person meeting, but has been moved online. A statement by the panel said: “Following the high level of interest expressed to the panel by members of the public and reporters from the press wishing to attend, the decision has been made to hold this meeting online and for it to be live broadcasted and recorded.
“This measure is in place to ensure full transparency of proceedings to the wider public, without having to restrict numbers present during the pandemic.”
Make or break
Just five months after being voted into office, the Tory commissioner’s future in the role looks set to be shaped by his appearance before the panel, where his controversial comments are top of the agenda.
Speaking on BBC Radio York last Friday the commissioner stated Ms Everard should not have submitted to her arrest by serving Met Police Officer Wayne Couzens and that women needed to be streetwise about when they can be arrested.
Despite since admitting his remarks were both “entirely misconceived and grossly insensitive”, stating he would not be resigning and asking the public to accept his apology, scores of individuals and bodies have requested to question Mr Allott when he appears before the panel.
Mr Allott has also announced he intends to meet with local partner organisations as soon as possible who provide services to tackle male violence against women and girls “in order to deliver on their concerns and broaden his understanding of the issues.
Ahead of the complaints being examined by the panel, Mr Allott has said he intended to “extend the process my full cooperation”.
In a 30-page letter to the panel he wrote: “I am confident that we share the aim of ensuring that public concerns are heard and addressed, whilst at the same time adhering to the law and due process. I recognise that it is vital for the understandable public outcry to be acknowledged and for complainants to feel it has been addressed.
“The volume, tone and content of the public’s concern arising from my answer, is plain. It speaks volumes about the dreadful extent of my error and the importance to society of properly addressing of the issue of male violence against women and girls.”
Can they trust him?
An officer’s report to the panel states a large volume of complaints had been routed directly to the Commissioner’s office and which “may also result in additional complaints for the panel to consider”.
Leading Conservative Party figures in the county have declined to comment publicly about Mr Allott’s future, but privately have said his position is likely to be determined by organisations and individuals he must collaborate with as commissioner, over whether they can trust his opinions.
It remains unclear whether organisations such as North Yorkshire Horizons, Respect or Yorkshire-based Independent Domestic Abuse Services charity, which is chaired by the previous commissioner, Julia Mulligan, will be among those quizzing Mr Allott.
The panel has scheduled 30 minutes for public questions, which could be extended. It is comprised of elected representatives from nine councils from across the county and York, as well as independent members.
However, the panel is quite restricted what it can do in holding the commissioner to account, but it could hold a vote of no confidence or advise Mr Allott that he should consider his position.