Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fired in secret: The hushed-up hearings of British police who are found guilty of crimes and misconduct

Hundreds of police officers accused of crimes and misconduct are being sacked in secret hearings, according to new documents. Forces across the UK are hushing up the dismissal of 160 officers every year for offences ranging from assault to leaking confidential information.

The documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, give an embarrassing insight into constabularies and raise questions about their transparency.

They tell how one officer in Durham was cautioned for common assault, while two members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland were fired for being drunk while armed.

Other officers have been sacked for perverting the course of justice, breaching discipline and leaking confidential information.

Over the past three years, a total of 477 officers were sacked, 52 demoted and hundreds more fined or reprimanded – all in private hearings. Many of the accused were suspended on full pay for long periods or had their duties restricted, costing taxpayers an estimated £2.7million every year. In one case, a Grampian officer was suspended for almost five years before his case was heard.

The information was uncovered in an investigation carried out by The Times into 52 forces across Britain.

Researchers found punishments varied – with officers sacked in one part of the country for offences that would trigger only a fine in another.

The IPCC was given the power to order public hearings in 2004, but only one has been held since. Chairman Len Jackson admitted the lack of transparency in the hearings was an issue. He said: ‘This does tax the commission. We are conscious that it is something we should be looking at all the time.’

Last week the IPCC agreed to hold a second public tribunal into the case of Metropolitan Police officer Simon Harwood, who shoved Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests in 2009, a few minutes before the 47-year-old died.

Original report here

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