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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Police Conduct Reforms “will do nothing to shore up public confidence in policing.”

1 September 2023

Chair Mark Loker blogs on the Government’s new Police Conduct reforms which will “make it easier for Police Forces to sack Police Officers”.

 Under the new rules being drawn up, Chief Constables will be put back in charge of disciplinary panels, replacing independent legally qualified chairs (LQCs). The reforms will also mean that officers who fail to keep their vetting status up to date will be automatically axed from their posts.

 Mark states: “This is a retrograde step to a legal process that has never been designed to retain the services of officers who should not be wearing the same uniform as the vast majority of our exemplary colleagues.

 “The legal process under a Legally Qualified Chair is a fair, transparent judicial scrutiny of behaviour on a case-by-case basis that removes emotion or pressure from ideology that is fashionable at that time and where Chief Constables believe they have to react to.

“These reforms have the potential to be nothing more than ‘kangaroo courts’, based on opinion and as the head of the College of Policing said this, vastly contrary to the Peel and Nolan principles we should beholden to.

 “These reforms will make a Chief Constable Judge and Jury – and we will be susceptible to their opinion, potential lack of objectivity, and most certainly not allowing for fair process in what is easily one of the most difficult times in any police officer’s career.

 “Not every police officer who is investigated following a complaint or report of gross misconduct is corrupt or deserving to be dismissed simply because they are investigated.

 “We need the Professional Standards Department’s assessment on conduct to reflect as such, otherwise this will not address behaviour – it will only promote fear and a lack of contrition for fear of dismissal.

 “The Regulations introduced in 2020 were designed with learning at their core because it was recognised that simply dismissing ‘issues’ isn’t the answer – it does nothing to address the behaviour and promote public confidence in our service.

 “The College of Policing’s own guidance quotes stated cases where it dictates that the outcome imposed should be no more than is necessary to satisfy the purpose of the proceedings. Panels are directed to consider less severe outcomes before more severe. The framework is sound and it works: Legally Qualified Chairs are doing their jobs.

 “I can assure you that none of us want the worst of us serving the best of us, but what these new foundations lay is the ability to get rid of anyone on a whim. This will do nothing to shore up public confidence in policing.”