From 1st May 2015, most of the provisions of the Police (Conduct) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 come into effect.
The 2015 Amendment Regulations make changes to the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012 (“the 2012 Regulations”).
The major change is that misconduct hearings will now be held wholly or partly in public. Previously this was only exceptionally the case. This is a very significant legal and practical change.
An additional significant change is that the 2012 Regulations now specify that a police officer who makes a protected disclosure (as defined in the Employment Rights Act 1996) is not to be regarded as breaching the Standards of Professional Behaviour.
The impact of the High Court decision in James-Bowen v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis on the relationship between a Chief Officer and those accused of wrongdoing in civil proceedings.
The High Court confirmed that, where a Chief Officer is defending civil proceedings brought solely against him/her, there is no duty owed to individual officers whose conduct is the subject matter of the claim.
While this decision is perhaps unsurprising, the action highlights the uncomfortable position a constabulary will often find itself in where it is uncertain about the truth of an allegation made against an officer.
What documents ought the Appropriate Authority to be disclosing to the officer, the panel and now the public?
One option is to supply the officer with the IO’s report “warts and all” with all statements and documents relating to the officer, together with an invitation to the officer either to agree duplication of service on the panel, or service of redacted material.
Adopting such an approach may avoid unnecessary arguments about bias and recusal on the grounds of prejudice.
However, it is attended by the risk that a complainant, or the IPCC, could complain that the AA is in breach of its Reg. 27(1) obligation.