New powers will make it easier to sack rogue officers from Bedfordshire Police

Police on the beat on Bedford High Street. Image: Bedfordshire Police/Facebook
Police on the beat on Bedford High Street. Image: Bedfordshire Police/Facebook

Bedfordshire’s top cop will have powers to make it “easier” to sack rogue officers, but any decisions could be scrutinised by the police and crime commissioner following changes to the disciplinary system.

Last week (April 16) new measures were laid in Parliament that the government said will make it easier for police chiefs to sack unfit officers during misconduct hearings.

This means police leaders will be able to influence any dismissal decisions impacting their own force.

These changes come after a review into police dismissals following the conviction of David Carrick, a serving police officer, for numerous sexual offences.

Bedfordshire chief constable Trevor Rodenhurst said: “The public expect the very highest standards from police officers and it is right that hearings are transparent, fair and subject to scrutiny.

“It is also important that chief officers, who set the culture and direction for forces, have the power to dismiss those whose behaviour falls short of the standards expected within their force.

“While chief officers have previously been able to chair hearings in limited circumstances, this change will allow all hearings to be heard by chief constables.

“I’m grateful to the legally qualified chairs who have undertaken that important role previously. It is crucial that legal representatives continue to be involved in decision making while the involvement of police and crime commissioner

Bedfordshire’s next police and crime commissioner (PCC) will have the responsibility to scrutinise dismissal decisions, and choose independent members to form the rest of the panel and sit alongside the chair and supportive legal advisors.

The government said this will ensure that any conflicts of interest are avoided to uphold the fairness of any hearings.

Previously these panels were chaired by independent lawyers known as legally qualified chairs.

The outcome of the hearings will still be determined by a majority panel decision, and hearings will continue to be held in public to maintain transparency and fairness.

Last week, policing minister Chris Philp said: “Officers unfit to serve must be rooted out at the earliest opportunity and these changes will ensure chief constables are given greater control over this process.”

In some circumstances, such as where misconduct allegations are more minor, the chief constables will be able to delegate their role on the panel to a senior police staff member.

Minor misconduct is conduct which does not “substantially involve” operational policing matters.

These changes will come into force on 7 May.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner was also approached for a comment.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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