Belfast Telegraph

Disgraced police 'face pay-off axe'

Chief police officers who are sacked for wrongdoing could be stripped of their compensation pay-offs by a disciplinary panel under new Government plans.

Home Secretary Theresa May's proposals will also see whistleblowers who report wrongdoing in the ranks shielded from disciplinary action as part of a wider shake-up to improve justice and transparency in the police.

Disciplinary hearings and appeals will be held in public and will be headed by legally qualified chairs to ensure judgments are open to public scrutiny and are legally sound, Mrs May said.

The proposals follow a review of the police disciplinary system by senior Army officer Major General Clive "Chip" Chapman, which Mrs May announced in July, and will be put out to consultation.

The Home Secretary said she intends to implement the measures before the 2015 general election with a view to impose the longer-term wide-ranging reform identified in the review later.

In a written ministerial statement, Mrs May said: "The integrity of the men and women who work in the police service of England and Wales is critical to public trust in policing. Real or perceived misconduct or corruption dents that trust and makes policing by consent more difficult.

"The vast majority of police officers behave appropriately and conscientiously, which makes it even more important to root out misconduct and malpractice and hold those responsible to account.

"I want to ensure that the systems and processes that deal with misconduct by police officers are robust, independent and transparent to the public.

"In July I commissioned Major General Chip Chapman to review the police disciplinary system.

"His report has been completed and I will consult on his recommendations for wide-ranging reform shortly. That consultation will also include proposals to fundamentally reform the police complaints system and further protections for police whistleblowers.

"The consultation I am launching today focuses on specific reforms that can be made in the short term that will have a significant impact in making the current system more robust, independent and transparent until such point when more fundamental reforms can be implemented.

"To improve justice, I am consulting on a power for disciplinary hearing panels to remove or adjust the compensation payments due to chief officers on termination of their appointment where a disciplinary finding is made against them.

"To introduce greater independence into the way police disciplinary hearings are conducted and ensure judgments are legally sound, I am consulting on the introduction of legally-qualified chairs to conduct police disciplinary hearings.

"To strengthen protections for police whistleblowers and ensure they can come forward with confidence, I am consulting on proposals to ensure whistleblowers will not be subject to disciplinary action for taking the necessary steps to report a concern and that any reprisals against them will be taken seriously.

"Finally, to improve transparency and accountability to the public and ensure that the robust response that the police take to misconduct is both visible and open to public scrutiny, I am consulting on holding police disciplinary hearings and appeals in public."

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