Letter: Discipline in the police force

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The Independent Online
Sir: You are wrong to talk ('An excessively retiring force', 15 February) of a failure of police management with regard to ill-health retirements. Chief constables have a double constraint on them when dealing with officers who are under investigation.

First, the discipline code is a lengthy and legalistic document, which prevents cases being dealt with swiftly. Second, Police Regulations, which cover all police officers' pay and conditions of service, is another long document with clauses that cover, inter alia, police organisation, appointments, probation, retirements, rates of pay and allowances.

Both the discipline code and Police Regulations stem from Acts of Parliament, and primary legislation is required to change them. Chief constables must abide by their provisions. However, the Association of Chief Police Officers has been calling for some time for changes in the law, and for greater flexibility in relation to ill health and discipline, for example, that cannot always happen when rules are enshrined in statutory regulations.

It is also worth remembering that if an officer is accused of committing a criminal offence, he will be pursued vigorously through the courts, whether he has retired from the service or not.

You praise the Home Secretary for announcing moves for officers to be dismissed from the service on grounds of 'incapability', but the ACPO has been the prime mover in putting together a package that we hope will not lead to wholesale dismissal of officers, but will improve personnel management within the service and encourage officers who do not perform well to do better; dismissal is the final option.

The service is making tremendous efforts to move with the times in personnel management - something for which you seem reluctant to give us credit.

Yours faithfully,


Chairman, Personnel and

Training Committee

Association of Chief Police



16 February