Branch chair welcomes review of police dismissals

South Wales Police Federation has welcomed a Home Office review of police dismissals announced in the wake of an interim report into standards at the Met.

Branch chair Steve Treharne said he would support any measures that streamlined the misconduct system and improve the process of dismissing officers who fail to meet the standards expected of them and those few who are clearly undeserving of the role.

But he warned sanctions against officers had to remain fair and proportionate and said the forthcoming review had to take police officers’ views into account.

Speaking ahead of a two-day seminar for Federation conduct and performance liaison officers from across England and Wales this week, Steve explained: “The vast majority of our members are honest, hardworking and professional men and women who would think nothing of putting their own safety at risk to protect the communities they serve.

“But like all organisations, there may be a small minority who need rooting out and we welcome anything that improves the process of dismissing them with fairness and transparency from the Force.

“Members of the public expect and deserve the police to behave to the highest standards and any officers that fail to meet these expectations should rightly face disciplinary action and, if appropriate, dismissal.

“But we have to remember there are two sides to every story and police officers often make split-second decisions in tense circumstances and sometimes they get it wrong.”

SWPF has welcomed the Home Office review

He continued: “Our officers are dealing with so many matters, many of these matters where they should not be the primary and most appropriate service to deal but due to cuts across the entire public service, we are the service that just can’t seem to say no. 

“Genuine mistakes made in good faith should be dealt with under the reflective practice review where appropriate and should not automatically default to the misconduct processes.

“Officers who find themselves in these situations deserve to be heard and treated appropriately and proportionally and any overhaul of the misconduct system must take this into account.”

Steve said a new disciplinary framework would have to include safeguards against spurious allegations and pledged the Police Federation would always support its officers in proceedings.

He said: “The nature of policing and the people our members have to deal with means false and malicious claims against them are almost inevitable and they have to be protected from that.

“There is also a strong argument for placing a 12-month time limit on misconduct investigations and this is something the Police Federation has been very vocal about in its Time Limits campaign.”

The Home Office review is likely to consider:

  • The effectiveness of the existing system to dismiss those who fall seriously short of the standards expected by policing and the public.
  • The impact of the introduction of changes to misconduct panels, including legally qualified chairs.
  • Whether forces are making use of their powers to discharge officers during their probationary period.

 Working with policing partners, it will also assess whether the regulatory framework for the police disciplinary system should be changed. 

The Government introduced public misconduct hearings in 2015, legally qualified chairs to lead conduct panels in 2016 and the Police Barred List in 2017 to ensure that officers and staff who are dismissed cannot re-join the police.