An Open Letter To Rt Hon Theresa May MP and Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP

Mesdames,

I truly hope that what I have to say is not, and will not be viewed as, a knee-jerk reaction to a single hiccup in process.  It most certainly is not.

Most recently there has been the case of Anthony Long, a retired Authorised Firearms Officer with the Metropolitan Police, who was recently acquitted of murdering Azelle Rodney some ELEVEN YEARS earlier.  After the verdict Mr Rodney’s mother said this

The IPCC still owe me an apology for the wholly inadequate investigation in 2005. A better investigation may have resulted in a trial nine years ago – I can never get those years back – the IPCC must stop failing families in this way.

She was clearly not satisfied with the IPCC investigation.

Today we hear Mr Long’s thoughts on the situation.  In a BBC News report it was reported thus;

He expressed his concerns about the Independent Police Complaints Commission in a Radio Times interview.

An IPCC spokesman said it was “right that when there is a fatality there is an independent investigation”.

Mr Long said scrutiny was expected, but said “the problem is the interpretation of the rules and the way in which officers were treated”.

He added: “Today, the Independent Police Complaints Commission seems to be treating police officers as criminals.

Clearly Mr Long isn’t satisfied with the IPCC investigation either.  Both sides of the fence claiming that the IPCC were incompetent, or worse.

At the very beginning of August we had the nonsense in Manchester where the IPCC requested a Judicial Review to quash their own report because they had got it wrong.

Police watchdog granted judicial review to quash own report into death of Jordan Begley

The unprecedented move by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) comes after criticism of the Greater Manchester Police during an inquest last year. In their report of the incident, the IPCC cleared GMP of blame.

An IPCC spokesman said: “At the coroner’s inquest into the death of Jordan Begley concerns were raised about the conduct of the officers involved that may not have been consistent with the IPCC’s findings.

“In light of this, the IPCC reviewed its investigation and decided to seek permission to quash its independent investigation report in order to ensure all the available evidence could be considered.

Surely ALL of the available evidence should have been considered before the final report was even written?  On face value that seems very shoddy practice and consistent with that found within the IPCC elsewhere in England and Wales.

Jordan Begley’s mother also attacked the competence of the IPCC, she clearly has no confidence in them, neither can I see why the Greater Manchester Police should have any.

At the end of July we had the case of Edric Kennedy-Macfoy, a firefighter who alleged that he was Tasered and racially abused by three officers from the Met.  This case has been well reported in the media, and the case against the officers collapsed not only due to wholly negligent (being generous) procedures by the IPCC but also the fact that there were numerous witnesses who allegedly supported the officers’ version of events.

The Guardian reports it thus

IPCC bungled case against officers accused of abusing firefighter

In a statement the IPCC vowed to review the case to ensure it did not repeat the blunders. It said: “The withdrawal follows procedural shortfalls identified by the IPCC. They related to disclosure of relevant material and the need for further investigative work, including witness interviews, which it became clear were not conducted during the investigation.

Even the IPCC admitting that their investigation did not come up to standard, leaving both Mr Kennedy-Macfoy and the 3 Police Officers lacking confidence in the IPCC.

The Guardian also had this to say

The watchdog admitted it failed to take into account statements corroborating the officers’ accounts from independent witnesses, did not interview those witnesses and then failed to disclose those statements during disciplinary proceedings.

Admissions like these can hardly instill confidence in anybody.

At the end of 2015 we had an Authorised Firearms Officeer arrested for ‘homicide’ following the fatal shooting of Jermaine Baker.

In the IPCC’s most recent update on this case Commissioner Cindy Butts says

As part of the IPCC’s homicide investigation, an MPS firearms officer was arrested on 17 December. That officer has now been interviewed twice by IPCC investigators under criminal caution and remains on bail.

In total, the IPCC has so far obtained more than 450 documents, gathered in excess of 250 exhibits of evidence and obtained more than 250 witness statements.

The investigative work is now focused on scrutinising the planning, risk assessments and decision-making of the MPS operation.

Right from Day 1 Cindy Butts sensationalised this case by bandying words such as Homicide about and her handling of a Public Meeting in North London

“There is disgruntlement among armed officers because their colleague was arrested and is facing the possibility of a homicide charge or whatever other pretend words the IPCC is thinking of,” said Mr Marsh.

Clearly the Police Federaqtion are not impressed with the handling of this investigation so far, although I do accept that it has not reached its conclusion yet.

Prior to this we had the disciplinary process involving ex Chief Constable Nick Gargan of Avon and Somerset Police.

Concerns raised over IPCC’s handling of Nick Gargan investigation

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said

I believe the IPCC acted with good intentions to protect and support witnesses and not betray the confidence of those that did come forward, but clearly the way they managed the process in this case has caused concern, as any failure to follow the disclosure process could have led to the proceedings being compromised or worse still collapsing.

The disclosure process needs to be reviewed by the IPCC so it is clearer for all concerned in future investigations and I will be writing to the IPCC Chair Dame Anne Owers to request this.

Disclosure is clearly an issue with the IPCC, not restricted to one isolated investigation.

I do not know of one single Police Officer who thinks that the Police Service should be unanswerable and unaccountable.  What they do expect is that ALL SIDES are examined equally, fairly and truly independently.  Anything less than that lets the Police down and it lets the Public they serve down, and neither side wants that.

I emplore you to initiate a programme of reform of the IPCC that goes beyond rebranding, rebadging and an increased budget.  A Root and Branch reform of working practices, policies, abilities etc etc is what is needed, plus a proper INVESTIGATION into the cases above where serious shortcomings have been highlighted.  A Review or a Scrutiny is simply not sufficient.

I’m obliged.

Giz A Job

Seems you don’t even have to ask these days.

I am indebted to @juileanneda for this story, I’m sure I would have caught up with it, but she shortcut the process for me.

Within weeks of being found guilty of 8 counts of Misconduct, AND required to resign, it seems Mr Nick Gargan has been gifted a job by our old friends G4$.

The job as a programme director  was not advertised, nor was anyone else interviewed, and it was awarded after G4$ had told the Independent that it supported a “cooling off period” before senior officers were allowed to take up private-sector jobs. The company said that there had been an “immediate need for strategic advice”.

The initial contract only seems to be for a 4 month period, but we all know how flexible that can be.

I assume that he now features on the College’s famous Struck Off list, and whilst he is not being employed by a Police Force directly, he will come into contact with about 20 apparently, so it might be relevant?  It certainly isn’t a reference.

I can’t say that either party has done anything wrong, but I’m sure many people will be uncomfortable with the news.

Not being an expert in HR related matters I assume that “immediate need for strategic advice” means that Equal Opportunities need not apply.

No doubt a Knighthood or Peerage are also a possibility eventually too.

I can’t imagine many people in my lifetime will be paid a fortune whilst suspended, found guilty 8 times following a £half million Misconduct hearing, get a Golden Handshake deal when required to resign then walk into a job they haven’t even had to apply for.

I am available though.

Law and Lawyers: Chief Constables and Police Discipline

Courtesy of The blog of ObiterJ, I do hope he/she doesn’t mind me borrowing it.  I find it very useful today.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset (Sue Mountstevens) has commenced the process under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 section 38(3) to require the Chief Constable of the Force – Mr Nick Gargan QPM – to “retire or resign” – see Avon and Somerset PCC 19th August 2015.  This follows an independent misconduct panel which found against Mr Gargan on 8 counts of breaching of standards of professional behaviour contrary to Schedule 2 of the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012 .

The Commissioner’s website provides links to a number of documents including the misconduct panel report (the panel hearing was in private) and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report.   The IPCC acted on a referral from the Commissioner.

The power to remove:

Sections 38(3) and 38(4) state:

(3)  The police and crime commissioner for a police area may call upon the chief constable of the police force for that area to resign or retire.

(4)  The chief constable must retire or resign if called upon to do so by the relevant police and crime commissioner in accordance with subsection 3.

Schedule 8 Part 2  deals with the suspension and removal of chief constables. It requires a police and crime commissioner to notify the police and crime panel if he suspends the chief constable. In relation to removals, it requires the police and crime commissioner to give the chief constable a written explanation of the grounds for wishing to remove him, and allows the chief constable to make written representations which the police and crime commissioner must consider. The police and crime commissioner must also inform the police and crime panel of the proposed removal, and the panel must consider the matter at a hearing. The chief constable has the right to attend and make representations at the hearing. The panel may also consult the chief inspector of constabulary. The panel must make a recommendation to the police and crime commissioner in relation to the proposed removal, which the commissioner must consider.

Police and Crime panels derive their role from the 2011 Act section 28Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Panel

Criticism of the power:

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee examined the power of PCCs to remove Chief Constables – report of 20th July 2013.   This report noted that:

‘ … the role of the panel is purely advisory. The final decision to dismiss a chief constable rests with the commissioner alone, …’

The committee referred to a number of cases where there had been problems between Commissioners and Chief Constables:

‘It should not have come as any surprise that the election of Police and Crime Commissioners was followed by a number of high-profile clashes between Commissioners and Chief Constables. Within a few days of the election, Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Colin Port declined to re-apply for his job after the incoming Commissioner,Sue Mountstevens, indicated that she wanted to recruit a new Chief Constable whose tenure would cover her entire term of office. In Lincolnshire, Chief Constable Neil Rhodes was suspended by Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick—who also referred him to the IPCC—but was reinstated following a High Court judgment. In Gwent, Commissioner Ian Johnston invited Chief Constable Carmel Napier to retire, indicating that he was prepared to initiate the statutory process for her removal if she did not do so.’

Following publication of the Home Affairs Committee report, Sir Hugh Orde (President of ACPO) called upon the Home Secretary to review the power given to PCCs – BBC 14th June 2013 but the government defended the present position – BBC 20th July 2013

Home Affairs Committee and Police and Crime Commissioners:

The 16th report of the Home Affairs Committee was published in May 2014. The report recommended amendment of the PCC powers to suspend/remove so that the grounds on which the power may be exercised were stipulated.  The committee was also concerned that PCCs could “side-step” the scrutiny process set out in Schedule 8.  These recommendations have not been  implemented.  It may be that, in an appropriate case, the process of removal will come to be tested in the courts.

: A little legal history :

At common law, the development of the rules of natural justice had an interesting history with the important House of Lords decision in Ridge v Baldwin extending rules of natural justice to certain administrative decision-making including the removal of a Chief Constable.
Ridge v Baldwin [1964] AC 40: Following acquittal in a trial on corruption charges in which the judge criticised him, a Chief of Police (Ridge) was sacked without a hearing.  After reconsideration by the Police Authority and an unsuccessful appeal to the Home Secretary, Ridge brought an action for a declaration that the dismissal was unlawful.  The House of Lords granted the declaration.  In cases of dismissal on grounds of neglect of duty, a hearing was required. Neither the reconsideration nor the appeal to the Home Secretary cured the original defect in the decision, as both failed to give Ridge an opportunity to contest the material on which the decision was based.  In any event, the original decision was a nullity, so that it could not be rendered valid by the appeal to the Home Secretary, nor did this appeal exclude recourse to the courts.    Lord Reid dismissed the Police Authority’s claim that because it was implementing a policy, the principles of natural justice did not apply.   For a good article by S A deSmith on Ridge v Baldwin see Online Library.  The House of Lords composition for Ridge v Baldwin was particularly eminent:  Lords Reid, Evershed, Morris of Borth-y-Gest, Hodson, Devlin.  Lord Evershed dissented.

Source: Law and Lawyers: Chief Constables and Police Discipline