We’ll boot out officers who aren’t fit to wear uniform: Chief constables get new powers to sack PCs found guilty of misconduct or who fail vetting after Couzens scandal
- Suella Braverman will introduce ‘automatic dismissal’ for gross misconduct
- Police force under pressure to restore confidence after Wayne Couzens case
Sweeping powers to kick out corrupt and criminal police officers have been unveiled in the wake of a series of scandals.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman will toughen up disciplinary procedures against crooked officers, including ‘automatic dismissal’ for any found guilty of gross misconduct.
Chief constables will be handed a crucial role in the process – 15 years after they were stripped of the power to sack their own staff.
It comes after Scotland Yard commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said it was ‘nonsensical’ that he was unable to remove those who conduct themselves inappropriately at work.
He is under intense pressure to restore confidence after Sarah Everard was murdered by serving PC Wayne Couzens, and firearms officer David Carrick was unmasked as a serial rapist.
A bombshell report by Baroness Casey found earlier this year the Met’s ranks are riven with racism, misogyny and homophobia, and warned it may be harbouring many more predatory officers.
Mrs Braverman said: ‘For too long our police chiefs have not had the powers they need to root out those who have no place wearing the uniform. Now they can take swift and robust action. The public must have confidence that their officers are the best of the best, like the vast majority of brave men and women wearing the badge.’
Writing exclusively for the Daily Mail today, policing minister Chris Philp says: ‘Every officer who is not fit to wear the uniform must be booted out. The damage that can be done by the wicked and the inept is incalculable.’
Under the new measures, chief constables will chair misconduct panels instead of an independent lawyer. The force’s top officer will also get a new right of appeal if a panel allows someone accused of wrongdoing to keep their job.
In the future, police and crime commissioners could get a similar right of appeal. Because PCCs answer to voters, it would mean the public would have influence over police discipline for the first time.
Under today’s package, police found guilty of gross misconduct – for example, if they are convicted of a crime – will be automatically kicked out, apart from in a small number of ‘exceptional circumstances’.
The Home Office and police leaders will draw up a list of criminal convictions which will amount to gross misconduct. Vetting processes will be improved and serving officers who fail re-vetting will be sacked. The changes reverse Labour reforms in 2008 which removed chief officers’ ability to hear serious misconduct cases.
Sir Mark said: ‘I’m grateful to the Government for recognising the need for substantial change that will empower chief officers in our fight to uphold the highest standards.’
Chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Chief Constable Gavin Stephens, said: ‘We welcome the change that will ensure any officer guilty of gross misconduct is automatically dismissed, and that any officer who fails vetting can be sacked. It is also right that chief constables take the lead on the misconduct process.’
Excellence and honour must come as standard
By Chris Philp Policing Minister
The vast majority of our police officers are extraordinary, often putting themselves in the path of danger to keep us all safe.
This week saw the tragic death of Sergeant Graham Saville who intervened to save a member of the public on a train line – a devastating reminder of the sacrifices our brave police make every day.
Unfortunately, shocking cases like the murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of a serving officer have cast a shadow over the profession and shaken public confidence.
Such wickedness is plainly incompatible with being a police officer. The huge power we invest in them demands they demonstrate the highest levels of probity and decency.
I want good people to continue to choose this career and help win back public trust – without which the police cannot function.
Every officer who is not fit to wear the uniform must be booted out.
It is why this government is taking action following a review of the dismissals process.
Other than in exceptional circumstances, a finding of gross misconduct will now automatically result in an officer’s dismissal. We’ll also change the law to ensure all officers are appropriately vetted and to enable the sacking of officers who fail re-vetting tests whilst in post.
Police chiefs will be given greater responsibilities to decide who’s fit to serve in their force and will chair independent misconduct panels.
Senior officers will also be able to hear cases of former officers and special constables under fast-track procedures and police chiefs will also be given a right of appeal.
And we’ll explore with police and crime commissioners, and other stakeholders, extending rights of challenge to those democratically-elected commissioners.
Procedures for things such as unsatisfactory performance and hearings for former officers will be sped up and simplified – cutting red tape and saving taxpayers’ money.
Officers who have not transgressed deserve to be cleared as quickly as possible, and those who have should be kicked out without delay.
We will work with policing to create a list of criminal offences that automatically amount to gross misconduct. The system for removing officers and probationers who demonstrate a serious inability or failure to perform their duties will be improved.
Not being corruptible is far from good enough – there can be no place for the incompetent in the police. The damage that can be done by the wicked and the inept is incalculable.
There have been too many tragedies and transgressions in the police, where excellence and honour must come as standard. These changes to the way the police hire, train and fire staff are a major movement in the right direction.
David Barrett Home Affairs