Corrupt Pcs may have pension docked
Police officers should have their pensions docked as punishment for the most serious cases of misconduct in a bid to improve ethics within the service, a group of influential MPs has said.
In a report on policing standards, the Home Affairs Select Committee has recommended that a scale of fines should be established to tackle corruption among officers. The Committee has also called for a new code of ethics to be established and for all new officers to obtain a Certificate in Knowledge of Policing.
The report comes shortly after fresh allegations were made against the Metropolitan Police that undercover officers spied on members of murdered Stephen Lawrence's family. And there are currently at least eight investigations underway as a result of police failings, the MPs said, which have so far cost £23 million.
Keith Vaz, Home Affairs Select Committee chair, said: "Broken systems of accountability and a patchwork of police standards and training have allowed a minority of officers to get away with corruption and incompetence which is blighting an otherwise excellent service with dedicated officers."
He added: "The days of Dixon of Dock Green are over. The new landscape of policing requires a new type of police officer ready to meet the new challenges. Honesty, integrity and transparency are essential components of the policing DNA."
Among the ongoing investigations are Operation Alice, into the so-called Plebgate affair involving former chief whip Andrew Mitchell MP and Operation Elveden, into alleged corrupt payments between police officers and journalists. One officer told the Committee that colleagues tempted with corruption often looked at what they could lose and the pension was seen as a huge financial incentive to "keep your nose clean".
But the group of MPs heard of numerous cases where police officers retire to avoid disciplinary proceedings, with no further repercussions. Among them was Sir Norman Bettison, former chief constable of West Yorkshire, who stepped down while facing a disciplinary investigation for gross misconduct charges relating to Hillsborough.
Simon Harwood, the officer dismissed for gross misconduct after the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 riots, had previously served with the Met but retired on medical grounds in 2001 despite an unresolved disciplinary proceeding and was later re-employed.
The report said there is no way for chief officers or police and crime commissioners to stop officers from resigning to avoid disciplinary proceedings. However, the Government does plan to introduce a sanction for officers who resign or retire to dodge dismissal so all hearings will be taken to their conclusions regardless of the officer's departure.
The Committee said the recently-formed professional standards body, the College of Policing, should "establish a scale of fines which should be docked from officers pensions in cases of the most grave misconduct". The report also recommended that all forces publish details of misconduct hearings and their outcomes on their websites - a practice recently introduced by Scotland Yard.