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Devon & Cornwall Police Federation

Shoddy processes which leave officers careers at the whim of Chief Constables should have no place in policing

6 June 2023

Shoddy processes which leave officers careers at the whim of Chief Constables should have no place in policing according to Devon and Cornwall Police Federation.

Chair Andy Berry 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 Devon and Cornwall Police Federation Chair Andy Berry said: “The paper and the way it was announced smelt horribly of politicking and just an attempt to out manoeuvre the Home Secretary.  That there was no consultation with the Police Federation is frankly shocking and we all know that ultimately rushed ‘knee-jerk’ legislation tends to result in poor legislation.

“We all understand the need for high standards of professional behaviour within policing but that doesn’t mean or require shoddy processes which leave officers careers at the whim of Chief Constables. 

“The Police Federation should be fully engaged in this debate and no to do so will lead to a further erosion in rank and file officers trust in both their leaders and the Government.”

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.”