New misconduct powers are a return to kangaroo courts says Fed chair

New powers to allow chief constables to sack officers found guilty of misconduct are a backwards step that will undermine confidence in the process, says Dyfed Powys Police Federation.

Branch chair Gareth Jones said that powers were already in place and the changes were a “a return to kangaroo courts”.

His comments follow a Government announcement that a finding of gross misconduct will automatically result in a police officer’s dismissal, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Under the new system, chief constables or their deputies will chair misconduct panels and will be handed greater powers to decide whether officers should be dismissed. They will also be given a right to challenge decisions.



Until now, they have been chaired by an independent lawyer, known as legally qualified chairs (LQCs). Instead, legally qualified persons (LQPs), will provide independent advice.

Gareth said: “Of course there can be no place in the police service for corrupt officers and the disciplinary process has to be robust and fit for purpose.

“But forces already have the powers to remove those officers under the current system.

“Gross misconduct shouldn’t automatically be treated as a dismissal. There needs to be due process, an assessment of how serious the proven conduct is, and then a determination of a sanction which adequately and proportionately fits the proceedings, which is what we had.

“Our members are important stakeholders in the misconduct process and they must have confidence they will receive a fair hearing.

Backwards step

“This a backwards step towards a system that few had confidence in. The perception was that disciplinary hearings were a kangaroo court, and this is a return to that.

“LQCs were brought in for independence and fairness, qualities we’re always striving for when dealing with the public and yet we’re stripping that away from officers. That can’t be right.

“It feels like another attack on the rights of our members and I don’t think it will do much for morale.”

Under the changes, officers who fail vetting checks can also be fired.

Gareth said: “We support the vetting of officers to remove undesirable individuals but again there must be an open and transparent process.

“Let’s not forget that it’s been forces failing to properly implement vetting procedures over years that have led to inappropriate people wearing our uniform.”

Tiff Lynch, the national Federation’s deputy chair, said speeding up the disciplinary process would help to rebuild public trust.

Time Limits campaign

She said: “Ministers want chief constables to act fast, and chief constables want to act more swiftly. We would urge them to back our Time Limits Campaign to make a real difference to the dismissals process, to make it fairer and more robust for both police officers and complainants, paving the way for the rebuilding of public confidence which is paramount.

“Disciplinary investigations take too long to conclude. In the Baroness Casey Review it was highlighted that on average, the Met takes 400 days to finalise misconduct cases - but this is a nationwide problem.

“Latest statistics show one in eight cases still take more than 12 months to conclude, according to the Home Office.

“Via our long-running Time Limits campaign, we are fighting for police disciplinary investigations to be concluded within 12 months from the moment an allegation is made.

“We are proposing legislation which would give legally qualified persons power to impose deadlines on investigations which have dragged on for a year.”

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