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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

View from the Fed: Proposals to change police conduct regulations unfairly undermine legislation and due proces

12 June 2023

Proposals to change police conduct regulations unfairly undermine legislation and due process, according to Avon and Somerset Police Federation.

Chair Mark Loker was responding to proposed reforms to regulations governing police conduct and dismissal.

Those reforms have been proposed by Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and Harriet Harman KC, MP for Camberwell and Peckham, who say the current system is “not fit for purpose”.

They have written to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, inviting her to bring their proposals to Parliament.

Among the changes they suggested are:
• Automatically dismiss a serving officer who is convicted of a serious criminal offence, or who fails vetting 
• Automatically suspend an officer charged with a serious criminal offence
• Give Chief Constables the power to reopen misconduct investigations
• Reduce the performance process to two stages, from the current three (plus appeals)

But Mark said the proposed reforms “step beyond any rights expected by any person in a modern society” and would be a hammer blow to policing.

He added: “Harriet Harmen and Sadiq Khan, supported by our College of Policing, presented a White Paper of proposed reforms to our conduct legislation without consultation with the Police Federation of England and Wales.

“They have not acted openly, objectively, honestly or impartially. They are using their political office to unfairly undermine legislation and due process.

“I have said before that the fear felt by our members at this time is unnecessary, when it is less than 1% of our so-called colleagues that are affecting us all and the public we serve.

“I fear the mendacious approach being played out will only serve to set us back to closed shops and a failure for the rank and file to feel supported.

“Chief Officers already have the power to dismiss ‘rogue’ officers; what they are asking for is the power to dismiss anyone they choose without due process and without any comeback. That is the truth in this; that is not justice, and that is not fair and impartial.

“This paper is misconceived in its attempt to reform police misconduct procedures. It is a veiled attempt to bring policing in line with employment terms when we are not entitled to any other employment rights or conditions.

“Some of these reforms step beyond any rights expected by any person in a modern society and will be the hammer blow to British policing, not the saviour of reform required.

“I understand the need for high standards of professional behaviour within policing, but that doesn’t mean or require processes that could leave all police officers careers at the whim and favour of Chief Constables and politicians.”

Other proposed reforms include a so-called ‘Duty of Candour’, which would require an officer to proactively report any wrongdoing (by themselves or others), and a ‘Duty to Handover’ to obtain relevant information from an officer’s personal phone during a misconduct investigation

And Mr Khan and Ms Harman have also called for pension forfeiture rules to be changed so a criminal offence does not have to be committed ‘in connection’ with an officer’s service in order for them to lose their pension.

The Police Federation of England and Wales also criticised what it called “sweeping and uncontrolled powers” set out in the proposals.

A PFEW spokesperson said: “Policing in our country is in crisis and police officers desperately need cross-party support. The incredibly hard-working police work force need to set right their pay, working conditions and employment rights.

“Baroness Casey’s recent review of the Metropolitan Police Service highlights a possible way forward to deliver the changes needed to restore public confidence and deliver an improved service.

“Cultural reform and service-wide change cannot be undertaken by handing out sweeping, uncontrolled powers to police chiefs to dismiss officers without following due legal process. Systemic changes in police recruitment, vetting, training, standards, and leadership are needed, but any change must be fair, considered and backed by proper evidence and not conjecture.”