Wanted: Legally-trained chairman for police misconduct hearings

PCC Olly Martins with PCSO Narzia Ahmed
PCC Olly Martins with PCSO Narzia Ahmed

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins and other PCCs from the Eastern Region have launched a recruitment process to appoint qualified lawyers to oversee police disciplinary proceedings.

The move follows a change in police conduct regulations which will see legally qualified chairs replace police-trained chairs on Police Misconduct Panels from 1 January 2016 as part of a goal to increase transparency and confidence in the system.

Police Misconduct Panels (PMPs) hear cases involving allegations of misconduct by police officers which could include allegations of criminality, serious road traffic matters or serious breaches of the standards expected of a police officer. The maximum outcome at a hearing is dismissal from the police service without notice.

Police Misconduct Panels can be convened in any one of the six police areas in the Eastern Region which comprises of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

To comply with the new rules, Police and Crime Commissioners across the region are seeking to recruit up to 20 legally qualified chairs to preside as chairs over hearings held in each of the counties. PCCs are also responsible for maintaining lists of independent people qualified to assist a panel.

Chairs will be selected on an ad hoc basis by the Chief Constables to their respective PMPs and will preside over misconduct hearings for non-senior police officers and Special Constables.

Commenting on the recruitment announcement, Commissioner Martins said: “The changes that come into force in January bring additional openness and transparency to the police disciplinary system which is vital in maintaining public confidence in our police service.

“Appointing qualified lawyers to the role of chair across the six counties provides an enhanced level of independence to the system and reassures local people that serious allegations against police officers are dealt with robustly and effectively.”

Chairs will be appointed on a four-year term and will receive numeration on a daily rate. Successful candidates will also be subjected to security vetting and training.

Candidates must be able to demonstrate legal experience/qualifications, integrity, sound judgement, objectivity and a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

PMPs consist of three people, usually the chair, a police officer of the rank of superintendent or above and an independent member from the list of candidates maintained by PCCs for the purposes of the regulations.

The chair’s responsibilities will include reviewing papers, making pre-hearing decisions on whether witnesses should be called to give evidence during the hearing and to ensure that those parties who are not represented are able to present their case and have it considered fully and fairly.

It is expected that chairs will deal with three to four cases a year however volumes will vary.

Candidates should have prior experience of chairing meetings and the ability to exercise control over proceedings, experience of evaluating evidence, experience of reporting writing and writing up deliberations, decisions or case notes and excellent communication skills.

The closing date for applications is Friday, September 25 2015 and interviews will be scheduled for October 16, 22 and 23.

For more information and an application pack visit www.bedfordshire.pcc.police.uk/about-us/vacancies