90 days from today is Fri, 18 October 2024

Wiltshire Police Federation

Police Conduct Regulations must not be bypassed to allow vetting-based dismissal of officers

21 July 2023

Polfed News

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) fully agrees that chief officers must do more to prevent unsuitable individuals from joining and remaining in the police service. The vetting process should be revised and tightened to ensure the highest standards of policing and restore public trust.

In order to ensure the public receives the service they rightly deserve, both existing and prospective police officers must be subjected to robust vetting processes to identify and remove individuals unfit to be in the service.

However, some of the provisions contained in the Code of Practice for Vetting laid before the Parliament on Thursday, and effective immediately, authorise chief constables to dismiss officers without going through processes and mechanisms of dismissals. This clearly circumvents Police Conduct Regulations 2020 and opens a veiled backdoor route to afford powers to chief constables to dismiss rank and file officers potentially at whim.

It is disappointing that the College of Policing has disregarded PFEW’s valid concerns submitted in March this year about handing out sweeping powers to chief constables to carry out vetting-based dismissals of officers in respect of contested allegation/s of misconduct falling within the Police Conduct Regulations. It is undemocratic to allow chief constables to revoke vetting clearance inconsistent with outcomes reached in misconduct proceedings, unless valid and justified, as this simply creates an alternate route to dismiss officers without a transparent process.

PFEW National Board Member and Conduct and Performance co-lead, Melanie Warnes, said: “We support stringent vetting of officers to identify and remove undesirable individuals from the police service.

“However, this does not mean existing Police Conduct Regulations, which have been established following a democratic process, should be outrightly undermined and the authority of independent Legally Qualified Chairs bypassed.”

Phil Jones, PFEW National Board Member and Conduct and Performance co-lead, added: “Police officers must have confidence that they have the right to fair and transparent disciplinary processes to ensure individual bias does not govern or influence decisions which have serious consequences on an individual’s career and wellbeing.

“We have requested and await the College of Policing to share the Equality Impact Assessment to ensure no group of officers are unjustifiably disadvantaged by the revised code.”