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Fedster

The rules and regulations on workplace relationships with officers of junior rank need redefining.

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Date - 23rd April 2021
By - Gary Mason

The case of Surrey DCC Nev Kemp who was given a final written warning this week for failing to disclose a workplace relationship that could “cause a conflict of interest” is worthy of further consideration.

The force hearing that resulted in the sanction was held in private so details on the nature of this relationship and any conflict of interest caused by it are scant to say the least. 

But leaving aside the fact that any dirty linen washing involving senior officers tends to be done in private  - reinforcing the notion that they are somehow subject to a different set of rules to the rank and file  - those details have inevitably come out in the tabloid press. 

From reports it is clear that the DCC was having a relationship with another Surrey officer of much junior rank who was already in a relationship with a fellow officer in the same force. 

The comments on this story are polarised. On the one hand some argue that relationships between consenting adults happen at work and are none of the service’s business. 

While others argue that DCC Kemp has lost all credibility with the officers he commands and should be given a long posting on secondment to another organisation. 

But what has DCC Kemp done wrong exactly? Is he now on a final warning because he had a relationship with a junior officer who was already in a relationship with someone in the same organisation? Or was it because he failed to declare that relationship to his chief constable? 

The brief statement on Surrey Police’s website mentions “national and local policy” but it would appear from previous cases of this type that the rules and regulations as they exist  are not fully understood by those they might apply to. 

Having an affair is not a crime and in most walks of life adultery is a private matter which no longer attracts the moral opprobrium that it used to. Historically the police service is no stranger to these issues and senior officers are certainly not above reproach for what used to be called “going over the side.” Indeed there have been some notorious chiefs in the past whose multiple affairs have been common knowledge albeit within the confines of canteen chatter. 

Did it make them any less effective as chief constables? There is a growing awareness within the private sector that relationships between executives and reporting staff are very bad for business regardless of whether there are other parties involved. 

Indeed in some large business organisations it is now a sackable offence for a manager to have an affair with someone who answers to them. 

The reasons are many  -  the risk of allegations of a range of poor management practice  including cronyism, discrimination, failing to address performance issues, the list goes on. 

Arguably, the risk of all the above is even greater in the police service with a rigid rank structure which is open to abuse when private arrangements override fairness and transparency. 

Some would argue that these issues are about good and bad management and common sense. The problem is that common sense tends to be the first thing that disappears out of the window during covert sexual relationships. 

But who could disagree that a bad environment is created for a productive and effective workforce when the person who is sleeping with your partner is also your boss and works in the same building. 

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TooTall

It's a big issue. I've seen it done and I've seen the implications it's has on the work force. People may think it's a private situation, however its felt by all. Rank means nothing without respect, lose that respect and you've lost control.

Lead by example. 

 

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BizzieBee
1 hour ago, Fedster said:

But leaving aside the fact that any dirty linen washing involving senior officers tends to be done in private  - reinforcing the notion that they are somehow subject to a different set of rules to the rank and file  - those details have inevitably come out in the tabloid press. 

They are. See: Matthew Horne, formerly Dep CC Essex Police, mysteriously seconded to NCA, now Dep Asst. Commissioner at Met. Albeit, most recently, moved to a back office job due to further allegations of bullying. ‘Teflon’ doesn’t even cover it. 

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Zulu 22

It is the D.C.C. who is responsible for discipline within the Force.  The Deputy will have lost the respect of all of his officers and also Civilian Staff, and as D.C.C. he should have known better.  In the original report it said that the female Sergeant was married to another officer and found out about the affair by his door bell camera. The Deps behaviour was a complete breach of trust and his conduct was unbecoming of an officer, let alone a Senior Officer.  Discipline is not a question of a different matter for them and us, the discipline and respect apply to every officer.  The deputy was lucky not too have been on a Charge of Gross Misconduct and was more than lucky to keep his job.

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Reasonable Man
12 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

It is the D.C.C. who is responsible for discipline within the Force.  The Deputy will have lost the respect of all of his officers and also Civilian Staff, and as D.C.C. he should have known better.  In the original report it said that the female Sergeant was married to another officer and found out about the affair by his door bell camera. The Deps behaviour was a complete breach of trust and his conduct was unbecoming of an officer, let alone a Senior Officer.  Discipline is not a question of a different matter for them and us, the discipline and respect apply to every officer.  The deputy was lucky not too have been on a Charge of Gross Misconduct and was more than lucky to keep his job.

Is that because of his rank? I don’t hear people demanding the heads of the Constables and Sergeants ‘going over the side’. Equally I don’t see a queue of people at the Dep’s door waiting to be dealt with for Gross Misconduct for having a work based relationship. 
Lead swinging story - back in the day of a healthy police club at a nick where I worked there was a traffic Dept to bolster numbers. We worked out that 20 officers from the station were, or had been, in relationships with other officers or other officers wives. If they had all been sacked we couldn’t have policed the area. 

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Zulu 22
2 hours ago, Reasonable Man said:

Is that because of his rank? I don’t hear people demanding the heads of the Constables and Sergeants ‘going over the side’. Equally I don’t see a queue of people at the Dep’s door waiting to be dealt with for Gross Misconduct for having a work based relationship. 
Lead swinging story - back in the day of a healthy police club at a nick where I worked there was a traffic Dept to bolster numbers. We worked out that 20 officers from the station were, or had been, in relationships with other officers or other officers wives. If they had all been sacked we couldn’t have policed the area. 

Your community deserved better

So you seem to be happy about low standards and morals within  the Police.  In my opinion for a DCC to be having relations with a married Sergeant is conduct unbecoming and a Gross misconduct. He is virtually signalling that this behaviour is acceptable, and it is not.  He must be the laughing stock of the Force and will have zero creditability. 

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Reasonable Man
2 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

So you seem to be happy about low standards and morals within  the Police.  In my opinion for a DCC to be having relations with a married Sergeant is conduct unbecoming and a Gross misconduct. He is virtually signalling that this behaviour is acceptable, and it is not.  He must be the laughing stock of the Force and will have zero creditability. 

 

2 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

So you seem to be happy about low standards and morals within  the Police.  In my opinion for a DCC to be having relations with a married Sergeant is conduct unbecoming and a Gross misconduct. He is virtually signalling that this behaviour is acceptable, and it is not.  He must be the laughing stock of the Force and will have zero creditability. 

I don’t come on here so much these days but am reminded how you take a post and then tell the poster what they think and so what their values are. 🙄

My point was if a relationship is considered a sackable offence then that should apply across the board. And if that was the case then a lot of officers would be out on their ears  

I note you haven’t condemned the Sgt, who is the married party and also in a position of command. You haven’t said it yet but should she also be up for gross misconduct? Is she also lucky to keep her job? 

 

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BlueBob
1 hour ago, Reasonable Man said:

My point was if a relationship is considered a sackable offence then that should apply across the board. And if that was the case then a lot of officers would be out on their ears  

I note you haven’t condemned the Sgt, who is the married party and also in a position of command. You haven’t said it yet but should she also be up for gross misconduct? Is she also lucky to keep her job? 

 

Its a tricky topic and agree that it should apply across the board.  However, if we did that a significant proportion of the police service would become ex-officers when you look at how many officers are married or in significant relationships with other officers (not even exploring the wider police family).    
And as you right say, if it takes two to tango, then surely both parties are naughty unless it could be shown that it was only being done under duress.  
I'm not so high and mighty as to see the police service setting boundaries and moral decisions on how those who are married behave - again a bit of honesty and reality shows that policing has a quite significant divorce rate, so who are we to say whether they must await the decree absolute before allowing a further relationship to blossom. .  As long as they do the police work, I'm not bothered about their personal lives. 

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Zulu 22
1 hour ago, Reasonable Man said:

 

I don’t come on here so much these days but am reminded how you take a post and then tell the poster what they think and so what their values are. 🙄

My point was if a relationship is considered a sackable offence then that should apply across the board. And if that was the case then a lot of officers would be out on their ears  

I note you haven’t condemned the Sgt, who is the married party and also in a position of command. You haven’t said it yet but should she also be up for gross misconduct? Is she also lucky to keep her job? 

I have known officers to lose their jobs through ex marital affairs within the job with other officers. There is a significant difference between that and officers having affairs or marriage breakdowns outside of the job. 

The DCC was in a position of authority and as such was being manipulative of a junior officer.  I believe that she should have been disciplined as well.  What message did those actions send to other officers, and public.  Such in house affairs can, and do so much damage in the publics eyes and lose the respect of other officers.  I had a Sergeant who was having an affair with an ACC, both behind their spouses backs.  He resigned and no disciplinary action was taken against the Sergeant, other than her husband, a serving officer divorcing her and citing the ACC.  She lost all credibility within the job and resigned a couple of years later.

As for what you think, I have no idea as you made no comment regarding the affairs within a Traffic Department, where you worked.  You neither condemned that or supported it.

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BlueBob
1 hour ago, Zulu 22 said:

I have known officers to lose their jobs through ex marital affairs within the job with other officers. There is a significant difference between that and officers having affairs or marriage breakdowns outside of the job. 

The DCC was in a position of authority and as such was being manipulative of a junior officer.  I believe that she should have been disciplined as well.  What message did those actions send to other officers, and public.  Such in house affairs can, and do so much damage in the publics eyes and lose the respect of other officers.  I had a Sergeant who was having an affair with an ACC, both behind their spouses backs.  He resigned and no disciplinary action was taken against the Sergeant, other than her husband, a serving officer divorcing her and citing the ACC.  She lost all credibility within the job and resigned a couple of years later.

As for what you think, I have no idea as you made no comment regarding the affairs within a Traffic Department, where you worked.  You neither condemned that or supported it.

So I can align my moral compass, would it be okay for unmarried officers to have a relationship or is it a requirement to both be unmarried?  ~does rank make a difference?  Is it okay if it is just one 'elevation' or promotion difference or does it become wrong when its 3-4 promotions difference.    I wonder how many officers are married or should that be not divorced as a matter of convenience but are neither living with their spouses or in a relationship with their spouse.  That approach is almost as archaic and dating as the idea that the widow of a deceased officer cannot continue to claim the pension of they subsequently become married.    
Lets move policing forwards towards the 18th century and set some simple guidance.  Being married is an arbitrary and ambiguous division IMHO in the current society.

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Zulu 22

I think that two unmarried officers would be fine as it could not be described as an affair.  I know of many officers who are married to fellow officers when rank was of no concern.  They usually worked in different departments to prevent any conflict of interests.  Their relationship would have been described as a "Courtship" not an affair with another married officer.

I also had two officers married to civilians. Both their marriages were failing and both couples had amicably agreed to part and take divorce proceedings. Both officers came to me to inform me of the situation. Both wanted to set up house together as a couple.  I advised them, they submitted a report requesting permission to reside at the same address.  I actually recommended this application and it came back giving permission.  No embarrassment or conflict was caused.  They are still together after around 20 years. 

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Equin0x
5 minutes ago, Zulu 22 said:

I think that two unmarried officers would be fine as it could not be described as an affair.  I know of many officers who are married to fellow officers when rank was of no concern.  They usually worked in different departments to prevent any conflict of interests.  Their relationship would have been described as a "Courtship" not an affair with another married officer.

I also had two officers married to civilians. Both their marriages were failing and both couples had amicably agreed to part and take divorce proceedings. Both officers came to me to inform me of the situation. Both wanted to set up house together as a couple.  I advised them, they submitted a report requesting permission to reside at the same address.  I actually recommended this application and it came back giving permission.  No embarrassment or conflict was caused.  They are still together after around 20 years. 

Are you from the Victorian era?

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Reasonable Man
2 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

...

As for what you think, I have no idea as you made no comment regarding the affairs within a Traffic Department, where you worked.  You neither condemned that or supported it.

If you have no idea about what I think then I wonder why you made assumptions 🤔

6 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

So you seem to be happy about low standards and morals within  the Police. ... 

 

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Zulu 22
3 hours ago, Equin0x said:

Are you from the Victorian era?

Not at all, just that the Police must have the respect of the Community without some of the officers who let them down which disrespect the majority of honest, caring officers. Perhaps you would regard the making and distribution of child pornography as being in the Victoria era.

Edited by Zulu 22
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TheMoo
2 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

 Perhaps you would regard the making and distribution of child pornography as being in the Victoria era.

That's...that's quite a leap? 

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