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Inconsistencies in police misconduct outcomes revealed

College of Policing say outcomes should look more similar in future but Fed warns each case is different.

CC Alex Marshall says cases should become more consistent

CC Alex Marshall says cases should become more consistent

Date - 27th July 2017
By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle
11 Comments 11 Comments}

Should receiving a criminal conviction always result in dismissal from the police service? Should a data protection breach?

A six-month analysis of police misconduct hearings by Police Oracle has found several apparent inconsistencies within the system across England and Wales.

We created a database of every hearing outcome placed on force websites from January to June this year.

Among the 175 cases examined, we found:

  • In February, a tribunal heard about a Thames Valley special constable who travelled with a friend to meet a wanted criminal she knew would be at a hotel, fell asleep in his room and only alerted colleagues to his whereabouts afterwards. In interview she said she would do the same again. She was given a final written warning.
  • The next week, a Leicestershire special constable was dismissed from his force for wrongly claiming £23 of mileage expenses.
  • A West Yorkshire PC took a police car to his child’s school without permission, misused his emergency lights on more than 13 separate occasions, stayed at home during six shifts without permission, and broke the speed limit without any policing reason four times. He was given a final written warning.
  • Six officers from various forces were dismissed for drink-driving offences, while a seventh, in Devon and Cornwall, was not. The force refused to give any information whatsoever about the circumstances of the case.
  • Officers were dismissed in five of the eight cases where they breached data protection rules.

Since May 2015 there has been an expectation that police misconduct hearings will be held in public and for outcomes of cases to be posted online. Since January 2016 the cases have been chaired by independent lawyers.

Chief Constable Alex Marshall, of the College of Policing, which provides training for the chairmen, told “We will soon publish sanctions guidance for the panels to use, we would expect them to follow them.

“I would expect there to be more consistency on where the line is of where people lose their jobs.”

The guidance is awaiting ministerial sign-off.

But Phill Matthews, who leads on conduct for the Police Federation, said: “In each case there will be a particular reason why a decision was reached and we don’t want to see decisions taken out of the hands of the legally-qualified chairs.

“There can be an expectation of a certain outcome but it is only right that there is scope for discretion based on the individual circumstances.”

The 175 misconduct hearings that were held in the period involved 132 involved constables, 16 sergeants, 10 specials, five inspectors, one chief inspector and one assistant chief constable. On the other occasions the force did not state the rank of the personnel involved.

In May this year, during the period covered by our analysis, it was established at the High Court that forces have a right to challenge the outcome of misconduct cases, however no force has done this so far.

Carrying out an independent analysis of police misconduct inconsistencies is extremely difficult because forces display information in vastly different ways.

Some, like Avon and Somerset, produce detailed documents outlining almost entire cases.

Others put next to nothing online – for example two Leicestershire officers were dismissed in May, but the force stated no information about them whatsoever, even their rank. 

The case was held behind closed doors.

Regulations mean that the reasons for a force deciding to hold such hearings in private do not need to be published.

The Home Office has appointed no one to oversee whether forces are posting sufficient information about cases online.

But Phill Matthews, from the Police Federation, said: “I’m not sure I’m in favour of publishing complete findings, I’m not sure it is required or necessary. It remains online forever once it is posted.”


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Anonymous - Fri, 28 July 2017

city of London pcso got a final written warning for forgetting to take a hi-vis on patrol - same as a dci for 5 counts of gross misconduct.