Some New Police Misconduct Measures

The Governments response to public disquiet about responses to police misconduct is starting to materialise with the advent of some important changes. These are relevant to Sancus Solutions as they impact on our unique set of Police Professional Standards Training Courses

There has been frequent criticism of forces allowing officers under investigation to resign or retire on what are seen as lucrative pensions rather than face a misconduct hearing. Professional Standards Investigators will know that the result of complex investigations can be uncertain and often simply getting the officer of the force’s books is an expedient way of solving a problem. The alternative can be that an officer suspected of misconduct can continue to earn a salary whilst under suspension or away from active duty for months or in extreme cases years.

However there is no doubt that public confidence in the police service is diminished by these cases. In a recent period of nine months 144 officers resigned or retired whilst facing gross misconduct investigations.

New regulations have come into force aimed at preventing this happening. From January 2015 Police and Crime Commissioners will only be able to consent to an officer resigning when they are facing an allegation that may lead to dismissal under very restricted circumstances. These include  medical grounds or where a covert criminal investigation could be prejudiced by the officer being retained.

The theme of public confidence in the service is also prominent in the second initiative. Many commentators were surprised to learn that the Metropolitan Police officer implicated in the death of Ian Tomlinson had previously faced two misconduct hearings. He had resigned from the Metropolitan Police on an injury pension, later re-joined Surrey Police and subsequently transferred back to the Met.

In an attempt to prevent this happening again The College Of Policing have instigated a national Disapproved Register. The theory behind this is that forces provide the College with details of officers who have been dismissed from the service or left whilst facing gross misconduct investigations. Presumably the latter category will eventually become redundant in view of the new regulations already described.

After twelve months in existence there are now 444 names on the Disapproved Register. The names are not (yet) made public but we can glean some interesting snippets from the details. In terms of rank there are 371 constables, 47 sergeants, twenty chief inspectors and 2 superintendents.

The most frequent categories misconduct are data misuse (59 cases), failure to perform duty (50 cases) and giving false evidence (41 cases).

Only time will tell if the new measures impact on the levels of confidence in officers. It is surprising that police misconduct hearings are not held in public. The names of dismissed officers are not formally publicly available. This gets the police aside from other professions such as doctors whose hearings are generally held in public. The rationale behind this is that public confidence in the profession must be maintained. The names and sanctions faced by doctors found guilty of misconduct are listed for all to see on the website of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service

Sancus are the UK’s leading provider of Professional Standards Investigation training to the police.

Follow the links to see details of our Investigations In Professional Standards Course, Investigating Deaths Following Recent Contact With Police Course and Professional Standards Department Decision Making Course