Inquiry into police officers who 'helped family get jobs'

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The Independent Online

A Chief Constable and his deputy are being investigated amid allegations that they helped their relatives during a police recruitment drive.

Graham Maxwell, Chief Constable of North Yorkshire and the Deputy Chief Constable Adam Briggs are the subject of an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over claims that they allowed two relatives to circumvent job application procedures.

Last month the force received more than 350,000 enquiries in five days about just 60 police officer jobs. The demand was so great that a special phone number set up to help cope with the demand crashed within hours. The application process was structured so that, upon phoning the hotline, callers would be subjected to an initial assessment – a series of questions about their eligibility, rather than their suitability for the job. If they were deemed eligible, the candidates were directed to a website so that they could fill in an application form.

The allegation is that Mr Maxwell and Mr Briggs allowed their relatives access to the application without going via the vetting hotline. The suggestion is that Mr Maxwell helped one of his own relatives and a relative of Mr Briggs, while Mr Briggs is accused just of helping his own family member. The IPCC is also investigating claims that two police staff members abused the system in a similar way, but to benefit themselves.

The IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: "These allegations are extremely concerning, particularly the aspect involving the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable. As they concern the integrity of the two most senior officers in North Yorkshire, it is in the public interest that the IPCC is involved. I will therefore ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted."

Recruitment is a contentious issue among police forces and many have had to introduce a freeze as budget cuts mean there is no money to hire new officers. Last month The Independent revealed how 2,000 recruits at the Metropolitan Police were told that the jobs they had been promised were no longer available and they would have to wait up to two years before positions became open.

The North Yorkshire force started the recruitment drive on 8 February and put approximately 1,000 people through to the application stage. Demand was so great that the Chief Constable, his Deputy, and the Assistant Chief Constable Sue Cross helped to man the phones.

The complaint to the IPCC was made last Friday by a member of staff at the force. While there is no suggestion that any of the applicants allegedly aided by Mr Maxwell and Mr Briggs were aware they were potentially breaking rules, North Yorkshire Police yesterday confirmed that, should the IPCC investigation find that they were given an unfair advantage, the applicants will be barred from taking positions within the force.

Assistant Chief Constable Sue Cross said: "If any applicant is found to have gained an unfair opportunity by not following the defined recruitment process, they will be removed from that process. Our primary concern is reassuring all applicants and the communities we serve that our recruitment processes are fair and transparent."