A POLICE watchdog has criticised a Yorkshire police authority and former Deputy Chief Constable after he obtained “executive coaching” from public funds despite receiving a special allowance for personal development training as part of his salary.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said Adam Briggs, who retired from North Yorkshire Police last February, could have faced proceedings for gross misconduct had he remained.
The IPCC also criticised North Yorkshire Police Authority (NYPA) for awarding an allowance as part of his salary without any auditing of what it was spent on or clear definition of what it was for.
But Mr Briggs last night described the IPCC’s report as “vindictive”, while the police authority called its findings “disproportionate”.
The findings emerged as NYPA confirmed Tim Madgwick, the present Deputy Chief Constable, would temporarily replace Grahame Maxwell as the force’s top officer when Mr Maxwell leaves the force.
Mr Madgwick has been appointed on a temporary basis to allow the newly-elected police commissioner – who will take over from the police authority in November – to make their own permanent appointment.
Mr Maxwell is due to leave in May after NYPA refused his request to extend his contract in the wake of the Chief Constable’s admission of gross misconduct for nepotism in a recruitment process.
The IPCC’s concerns focus on how Mr Briggs, who is now a management consultant, obtained executive coaching at a cost of £11,750 to NYPA when he had received a total of £31,647 in personal allowances for private medical insurance and personal development since he became North Yorkshire’s Deputy Chief Constable in 2007.
The report says Mr Briggs agreed and personally signed a contract with a company called Enabling Development in November 2007 for executive coaching. According to the IPCC report, Mr Briggs said he told his employer about the arrangement at the time but NYPA chief executive Jeremy Holderness disputed this. The payments to the company were first flagged up internally in 2009 when it was recognised procurement rules, including getting three quotes, had not been followed.
According to the IPCC report, chief constable Grahame Maxwell formally admonished Mr Briggs as his line manager but no misconduct action was taken. The agreement was then retrospectively approved.
NYPA revisited the issue in 2010 after being alerted by a freedom of information request but in January 2011 ultimately decided Mr Maxwell’s advice was sufficient sanction.
Mr Briggs then abruptly retired amid some acrimony after he publicly criticised NYPA for resurrecting a matter he believed had been dealt with in 2009.
Last February, only days after his departure, the IPCC began its probe, raising serious concerns over spending controls and criticising Mr Briggs for declining to answer questions.
The report says: “It is inconceivable that whilst holding the second highest position in NYP, Mr Briggs did not know of the force and Authority procurement and tendering requirements. He chose not to comply with them and this is of concern. It is unlikely that Mr Briggs claim for the training will withstand public scrutiny.
“Mr Briggs was in public office and he should have been acting in a financially responsible way, which was open, transparent and auditable.”
The police authority is also held to task with the report concluding: “It is unacceptable that the extensive allowance Mr Briggs received for personal development training and medical insurance was not to be audited from the outset so cannot now be accounted for.”
NYPA chief executive Jeremy Holderness said “…in our view, it is disproportionate to say that the arrangements were ‘unacceptable’.”
Mr Briggs said: “I regard the IPCC inquiry as a vindictive act and I was not prepared to be a party to it as the appropriate bodies had already concluded no further action was required. It has taken the IPCC 12 months to conclude this matter and I am astonished that they felt it necessary to conduct themselves in this way.”