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31 August 2023
Government reforms which aim to “make it easier for Police Forces to sack Police Officers”, must not come at the expense of officers being part of a fair and just process, Surrey Police Federation has said.
Under the new rules being drawn up, Chief officers 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.
Darren Pemble, Chair of Surrey Police Federation, said: “Police officers must have confidence that they have the right to fair and transparent disciplinary processes as these have serious impacts on officers’ career and wellbeing.
“The new system - with a finding of Gross Misconduct found - will automatically result in a police officer’s dismissal unless exceptional circumstances apply.
“The misconduct process is taking too long, and ministers clearly want a quicker process to remove officers, but will this make the process fair for officers? Police officers also want the process to improve as it is agreed that it is taking far too long which adds to officer’s stress throughout the process.
“PFEW are fighting to have misconduct investigations concluded within 12 months, latest statistics show 1 in 8 cases take more than 12 months to conclude. We want the process to be fair but not short circuited.
“These are extensive changes to the process of police officer dismissals as well as new vetting. We support stringent vetting of officers so that undesirable individuals can be identified and removed from the police service. This hasn’t been the case recently with high standards not being maintained and more training needed for those who investigate corrupt officers.”
Legally qualified chairs were introduced under changes to the Police (Conduct) Regulations made in 2015, to replace senior police officers as the chairs of misconduct panels to make the process more transparent, independent and fairer. Legally Qualified Chairs are individuals who remain independent of the police in order to provide fair and impartial oversight of these hearings.