Domestic Abuse Commissioner responds to police gross misconduct reforms

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner responds to reforms to police dismissals announced by the Home Office today. The reforms include:

  • Officers found guilty of gross misconduct can expect to be dismissed.
  • A statutory requirement will be created for officers to hold vetting – and support a legislative routeway to dismiss officers who fail vetting
  • Certain criminal offences – including sexual offences – will automatically amount to gross misconduct.
  • Chief Constables will chair misconduct hearings, sitting alongside a Legally Qualified Person and Independent Panel Member
  • A new appeal right for Chief Constables to the Police Appeals Tribunal against the finding or sanction at misconduct hearings

Responding to the reforms, Nicole Jacobs, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales says: “I strongly support new changes to automatically remove police officers that are found guilty of gross misconduct, and to allow officers who fail re-vetting checks to be dismissed. It is right that officers who fall far short of the most basic expectations of the police should have no place in the force.  

“But we must go further, introducing root and branch reform. Multiple reviews in recent years have found systemic failings in the way allegations are handled by forces. This is unacceptable.  

“It is impossible for the police to tackle perpetrators of domestic abuse and sexual violence, if they do not tackle perpetrators within their own ranks. I want to see systemic reforms in the way that police forces deal with allegations against their own officers, with many allegations failing to reach misconduct hearings.  

“That chief constables should chair misconduct hearings is also concerning. In order to restore trust in these processes, we need rigorous, transparent, independent chairing of the misconduct process that leaves no officers beyond reproach.  

“Officers should also be suspended from duty and have their warrant cards removed while under investigation for rape and domestic abuse. 

“Responding to crimes like domestic abuse and sexual violence is an essential part of policing. We need wide-reaching reforms in order to restore victims and survivors’ trust in the police, which is at an all-time low.”