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Use your conduct powers better, Federation tells Chiefs

Chiefs aren’t making use of conduct case reforms to speed up investigations, the Fed has claimed.

The Police Federation has rejected claims that Chiefs need more control of conduct hearings so they can sack officers.

The Fed said Acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Stephen House’s claim that forces were stuck with officers they couldn’t sack were wide of the mark.

They should instead make better use of reforms introduced two years ago, the Fed argued.

Conduct and Performance Lead Phill Matthews said: “It is a real shame that chief officers and the IOPC have not grasped the latest 2020 regulations and make more use of reflective practices to speed up the system. Instead, they continue to pursue cases which do not require dismissal to satisfy public concerns and then question why independent panels do not support similar action.”

The Met’s acting commissioner had urged MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee to review the rules covering conduct hearings.

Sir Stephen called for simplified regulations so that Chiefs could root out officers sooner – echoing a demand first made by the National police Chiefs’ Council last autumn.

He told the committee: “Chief Constables all round the UK face the situation where they have officers in the organisation they don’t want and can’t get rid of. They either can’t get rid of them quickly enough or they can’t get them exited from the organisation at all because we are not in control of those decisions.”

Currently misconduct hearings are ruled on by a Legally Qualified Chair, a member of the public and a senior police officer – usually a chief Constable.

But the Federation said Chiefs were not making full use of reforms brought in by the Home Office which gave greater powers to Police and Crime Commissioners.

PCCs can intervene earlier and set sanctions including reflective practice for lesser incidents as well as escalate serious cases quickly.

Feedback from officers to the Fed is that the reforms are working well.

The Fed said Chiefs had worked with the Home Office to introduce the reforms – and that the problems in getting more serious cases resolved swiftly was down to the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the courts system.

“It is ironic that the system was changed from allowing chief officers to chair hearings, partly at the request of chief officers to improve public confidence and transparency, as it lacked the confidence of both the officers subject to the disciplinary proceedings and complainants,” it said.  

The Fed re-stated its opposition to the NPCC’s demand for further reforms.

“To return to a discredited system in which complainants do not have faith and treats our members as if they are subjects of a kangaroo court would be a real retrograde step and cannot be allowed to happen,” said Phill Matthews. “We welcome expanding abilities of LQCs to get involved and help prevent issues of lengthy delays raised by Sir Stephen House.”

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