Chief constable suspended over 'misconduct'

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The chief constable of Cumbria Police has been suspended over allegations of serious misconduct, in the latest controversy involving the highest echelons of British police.

Stuart Hyde, the acting chief for the force, was relieved of his duties on Thursday during a closed-door meeting over complaints from within the force that may "indicate a breach in the standards of professional behaviour by Mr Hyde," according to a statement from the police authority. Officials declined to detail the allegations but they were not believed to be financial or sexual in nature.

During the course of his 29-year policing career, his responsibilities have included the police use of DNA, creating the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and tackling online crime. He was formerly the chairman of the charity Bullying UK.

Mr Hyde, whose case has been referred to the police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), has become just the latest head of a police force to face intense scrutiny over his actions.

Sean Price, the suspended chief constable of Cleveland police, will face a misconduct hearing next month over an internal appointment. He and his deputy, Derek Bonnard, face other charges over the alleged misuse of funds and corporate credit cards. They have both denied wrongdoing.

Norman Bettison, the experienced chief constable of West Yorkshire, was also fending off demands for his resignation in the aftermath of the Hillsborough force.

Mr Hyde, who was only appointed to the temporary role in January, said he would fight to clear his name. The senior officer has been with the force for more than three years and said that he wanted to continue to serve as its chief constable.

In a statement issued by his lawyers, Mr Hyde said: "I was devastated when I was told last night about the allegations. I will await the full details and I will co-operate fully with any investigation. This has had a profound effect on me and my family and I want to clear my name as soon as possible."

His lawyers also declined to detail the nature of the allegations levelled against him. The police force also would not comment about the complaints against Mr Hyde.

Cumbria Police Authority chairman Ray Cole said that Mr Hyde was suspended following a "number of allegations" against him. "The authority takes all allegations against any police officer seriously and must address these allegations in an appropriate manner. This is an isolated matter and does in no way reflect the conduct of the wider constabulary."

A spokesman for the IPCC confirmed that it was looking into the case. "We will be carrying out an immediate and detailed assessment of this referral to determine the level of our involvement in an investigation."