Pump Court Chambers

Colin Banham successfully represents a DCI from the Metropolitan Police at disciplinary proceedings

News 14th March 2016

Colin Banham successfully represented a DCI at a misconduct hearing where the officer faced allegations that he breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour in relation to Authority, Respect and Courtesy and Equality and Diversity. The officer was alleged to have made sexist and racist comments to junior officers, as well as reducing another officer to tears by his behaviour.

Prior to the hearing, it was submitted that the appropriate authority had not complied with their disclosure duties under Regulation 21 of the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012, in that relevant documentation concerning the ‘severity assessment’ had not been served.

After disclosure was made, it was clear that the appropriate authority had purported to make no less than three decisions under Regulation 19. The first two severity assessments had concluded that the behaviour of the officer amounted to misconduct only and the officer should be referred to a misconduct meeting. The final, purported severity assessment was only made after a complaint from a senior officer outside of Professional Standards. It concluded that the behaviour amounted to gross misconduct and the officer should be referred to a misconduct hearing. There had been no change in the evidence submitted to the appropriate authority on each occasion.

It was argued that:

  1. Once made, there is no mechanism under the Police (Conduct) Regulation 2012 for revisiting a severity assessment under Regulation 19;
  2. The panel did not have jurisdiction to hear the evidence in relation to the breaches as there was no valid referral from the appropriate authority;
  3. The decision to refer the officer to a misconduct meeting had been communicated to the officer on two separate occasions and the officer had a legitimate expectation that the case would not proceed to a misconduct hearing;
  4. Alternatively, there had been a significant departure from the intended and prescribed framework of disciplinary proceedings and, in any event, it would be unfair to try the officer (R v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, ex parte Merrill [1989] 1 WLR 1077).

The panel found that they did not have the jurisdiction to hear the evidence against the officer and that there was a legitimate expectation held by the officer that he should only be referred to a misconduct meeting.

The case was remitted to be heard as an allegation of misconduct only on a future date at a misconduct meeting.

To read more about the story as reported in the Evening Standard please click here.

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