THE North Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel’s report into allegations about the behaviour of Julia Mulligan makes a number of conclusions and recommendations.

The document is useful in setting out claims, counter claims and context, but perhaps its most beneficial aspect is highlighting the limited powers such panels have in the first place to investigate or sanction police and crime commissioners (PCCs).

The panel is to write to the Home Office to highlight the legal limitations it is bound by when deliberating on complex cases – namely that it does not have recourse to investigatory powers.

Its concerns were echoed by the complainants, who described police and crime panels as “toothless watchdogs that can do little more than snarl and flash their gums at their masters”.

Meanwhile in her response to the report, Mrs Mulligan described PCCs as a “legislative island”, adding that by law, they are not responsible for line management of any staff.

Perhaps the real lessons to be learnt from this situation are as much about the legal framework PCCs and those who hold them to account operate within as about Mrs Mulligan’s behaviour.

Serious flaws have been highlighted, and the Home Office must address them to ensure the public can have confidence in the role of PCCs – and the that there is a robust, transparent, meaningful process by which complaints of this nature can be dealt with.