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Misconduct panel chairmen fear putting names to decisions


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Officers involved in hearings routinely have details published.

Misconduct panel chairmen fear putting names to decisions

A chairman of police misconduct hearings fears releasing names alongside hearing outcomes will “unfairly create a perception that some [chairmen] are soft and others are tough”.

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) has called for the Home Office to draw up detailed guidelines setting out the underlying features of the chairmen's role in the misconduct system.

The organisation is calling for more transparency about the activities of chairmen, but says this should be "subject to caveats protecting individual identities".

The complaint has been revealed just days before the College of Policing's public database of all names of officers dismissed from service is due to be published.

The APCC surveyed LQCs, professional standards departments and staff working for police and crime commissioners across the country, producing a report on their views.

Previous National Police Chiefs’ Council research had found “there was no statistically significant evidence” that LQCs are more lenient in their decisions but the APCC survey shows a “substantial minority still have this perception.”

“It is clear from the detailed responses to one question on the survey that some forces have complained to PCCs about LQC leniency or lack of understanding about force processes/culture, although it is not clear what specific issues spurred these complaints.

"Again, this may be an argument for clearer guidance to both LQCs and forces,” the APCC report says.

A majority of panel chairmen, who are primarily lawyers, said they support greater transparency in generic terms, but they oppose "information about individuals, including expenses, fees and decisions" being published.

The chairmen showed strong resistance to the idea of publishing the names of LQCs alongside hearing results. Some individual forces currently do this.

The report says: “One respondent made the point that it would be unfair to list outcomes by chair, as this would 'unfairly create a perception that some are soft and others are tough'."

The same respondent claimed that as decisions are made by a panel individual LQCs could be “tagged” with a decision that they didn’t necessarily agree with.

A High Court ruling in 1987 established that the names of judges dealing with criminal cases must be made public in the interests of open justice. These are often the chairmen of a bench.

Derisory pay

In the report the chairmen also complained about the pay they receive.

“Four respondents took the opportunity to point out here that LQCs fees are considerably lower than chairs of other tribunals: the word “derisory” was used in reference to fees paid to LQCs by two separate respondents," the report states.

Fees vary throughout the country but publicly accessible documents show Cleveland Police pay LQCs £350 for a full day sitting of more than four hours, Surrey fork out a fixed day fee of £366 and South Yorkshire offer a £350 day fee.

The report raised concerns money was being wasted as in some cases LQCs were “requested to block out several days for a hearing that only lasts one or two days, thus not making the best us of their time.”

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