New legislation to stop police officers under investigation retiring or resigning from their posts to avoid action for misconduct has been proposed.
This is to be introduced, possibly before the New Year, to stop officers avoiding misconduct hearings which currently happens if they retire or resign. A Home Office spokesman said:
“We will legislate later this year to ensure that officers cannot resign or retire to avoid dismissal in misconduct hearings.”
Last week it was revealed that Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable, Terry Sweeney, is to leave on October 31st despite two current investigations into his conduct. His decision triggered a frustrated response from the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Jan Williams, the IPCC Commissioner who is overseeing the investigations into Sweeney, said:
“A police officer resigning when subject to investigation can frustrate our investigations, leaving important questions unanswered.
“Such a practice can only be damaging to public confidence in policing.”
Sweeney is under investigation by the IPCC for two allegations. He has been served with a gross misconduct notice in relation to the disposal of body parts by GMP from victims of Harold Shipman. Furthermore, he has been given a criminal and gross misconduct notice in respect of his role in an allegedly poorly handled investigation into an alleged sex offender.
He will still be interviewed by the IPCC but will not face any potential disciplinary action by GMP as he will have left and he will therefore still receive his pension. The IPCC currently cannot prevent an officer from resigning and when an officer has 30 years of service they have a right to retire.
A GMP source commented:
“There is widespread belief throughout GMP that Sweeney, as one of the most senior officers in the police, should not resign and set an example by doing the honourable thing, which is to stay and face the music.
“It is also disappointing that the chief constable (Sir Peter Fahy) has failed to communicate with his staff what his views are on this and how we should manage the low morale it has engendered.”