Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Police chief faces suspension calls

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy has been served with a criminal and gross misconduct notice, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said

The head of one of the country's biggest police forces is facing calls to stand down amid a criminal probe in relation to his role in an investigation into a suspected sex offender.

Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), is one of three serving officers to be served with both a criminal and gross misconduct notice following investigations by the police watchdog.

The inquiry is believed to be linked to allegations that GMP allowed a teenager to enter the home of a suspected paedophile who was under surveillance.

It has been claimed that officers did not stop the boy from walking into his apartment, which they were watching.

Another serving officer has been handed a gross misconduct notice following the investigations - prompted by allegations made by a whistleblower - for his oversight in the disposal of body parts belonging to victims of serial killer Harold Shipman.

Labour's Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk insisted that Sir Peter should be suspended, but Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said "nothing has been placed before me at this time" to make him consider his position.

The IPCC inquiry was broken down into three investigations - claims concerning Shipman's victims, allegations against a detective chief inspector, and claims concerning a sexual abuse investigation.

Sir Peter, a detective superintendent and a detective chief inspector - all serving - have been handed criminal and gross misconduct notices in relation to the allegedly poorly-handled investigation into the suspected sex offender. A retired officer will also be served with a criminal and gross misconduct notice over his role in this investigation.

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney is the officer served with a gross misconduct notice in relation to Shipman's victims.

IPCC investigators have obtained a volume of GMP documents relating to all three investigations, and interviewed the whistleblower.

A major incident room has also been set up and relatives of the victims of Shipman are being informed of progress, the IPCC said.

Sir Peter said: "As a chief constable, you face making complex decisions on a daily basis about many high-risk and challenging situations.

"It is right that this decision-making is scrutinised and that I am held to account as part of this investigation."

Mr Danczuk said: "I have raised concerns for some time about the leadership of Greater Manchester Police in relation to how it tackles sexual abuse. With the chief constable now under investigation for what is a very serious matter, it is only right and proper that he's suspended until the inquiries are completed.

"I cannot stress how important it is for the public to have full confidence in the police and the statements we've heard today suggest that those at the top are not taking this investigation seriously. If any frontline officer were facing serious allegations like this they would be suspended immediately and it should not be different for the chief constable."

Mr Lloyd did not accept that Sir Peter should be suspended, but admitted he would keep that decision "under review".

He said: " It is clear that these are serious allegations which must be investigated thoroughly by the Independent Police Complaints Commission as the appropriate independent investigatory body.

"As police and crime commissioner, I do not have statutory investigatory power - that power must lie with the IPCC. I would stress that the IPCC is only at the beginning of its investigation into these allegations.

"It is my role to consider what action, if any, should be taken with regard to the chief constable during the course of the investigation. I have taken independent legal advice from a senior QC with expertise in this area. Nothing has been placed before me at this time by the IPCC which would make me consider the position of the chief constable.

"I have asked the IPCC to update me regularly on the progress of the investigation and I will keep this decision under review.

"I understand that this investigation will cause uncertainty and will be of concern to the people of Greater Manchester. That is why the IPCC must conduct its investigation both thoroughly and speedily."

Human tissue samples were taken from 12 women killed by Shipman to establish cause of death, it was previously reported.

They were kept in storage for a number of years to ensure that police had the appropriate evidence should the murderer or his family appeal against his conviction .

But in 2011 police decided to ''respectfully dispose'' of the tissue samples without telling the families.

Remains reportedly belonged to Kathleen Grundy, Joan Melia, Winifred Mellor, Bianka Pomfret, Ivy Lomas, Marie Quinn, Irene Turner, Jean Lilley, Muriel Grimshaw, Alice Kitchen, Elizabeth Mellor and Sally Ashworth.

Sir Peter, who joined the police in 1981, worked in Surrey, Hertfordshire and West Midlands, and served for five years as Chief Constable of Cheshire, before he moved to GMP.

The married father-of-four was awarded the Queen's Police Medal in January 2004 and a knighthood in June 2012.

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