Six former home secretaries urge Suella Braverman to act on corrupt police officers

Labour and Tory grandees urge government to give police chiefs greater powers to sack rogue cops

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 30 August 2023 13:31 BST
Home secretary Suella Braverman under pressure over rogue cops
Home secretary Suella Braverman under pressure over rogue cops (PA Wire)

Six former home secretaries have written to Suella Braverman urging her to hand greater powers to police chief to sack officers guilty of misconduct.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has been demanding greater dismissal powers following public outrage over the cases of Sarah Everard murderer Wayne Couzens and serial rapist David Carrick – both serving officers while they committed their crimes.

Ms Braverman’s Tory and Labour predecessors at the Home Office told her to get behind Labour MP Harriet Harman’s police reform bill to give chief constables a greater say in misconduct cases.

The letter was signed by former Tory home secretaries Michael Howard and Ken Baker, alongside ex-Labour ministers John Reid, David Blunkett, Jack Straw and Alan Johnson.

“The public deserves to have full confidence in the officers who have been tasked with upholding the law and keeping them safe,” the cross-party grandees wrote in a letter first shared with LBC – warning that changes were need to restored trust.

The group of six added: “We believe this issue is too important for partisan arguments and that the response must sit above party politics, which is why we are asking for your support to work with colleagues to make parliamentary time so these measures can be urgently implemented.”

In January the Home Office ordered a review into the system for removing officers unfit to serve after the “atrocious” crimes of Carrick.

Reports suggest the government is ready to give chief constables they final say on whether officers can be sacked – rather than independent lawyers on misconduct panels, as is currently the case.

Under the present system, police officers who fail to maintain their vetting status can stay in their jobs under the appeals process. But it is thought the government is looking at ways to give chief constables automatic dismissal powers.

Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley (PA Wire)

Mr Rowley is desperate to speed up the process of clearing out “unsuitable officers” after re-vetting and checking records against the Police National Database.

The Met commissioner admitted earlier this year that the rules around getting rid of unfit staff were “crazy” after it emerged that “sex offender cases” were among the 161 serving officers with criminal convictions.

Calling on Rishi Sunak’s government to grant him powers to sack rogue cops, Sir Mark said it was “nonsensical” he does not have the power to dismiss officers. “Give me the power to do it,” he said.

The Met has admitted 161 officers have criminal convictions, including three serving officers have convictions for sexual offences and another 49 have convictions for crimes of dishonesty or violence.

Sir Mark said that of the 1,131 individuals whose misconduct cases were reviewed, 689 will have their case reassessed; and 196 may have their vetting status reviewed.

Donna Jones, chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said it was not uncommon for an average police force to have up to 20 officers waiting for misconduct proceedings.

“It’s right and proper that they are dismissed as quickly as possible,” she said. “It’s a better use of taxpayer’s money and once they’re sacked, the chief constable is free to go and recruit somebody else to replace them.”

It is thought more than 2,000 officers across England and Wales could lose their jobs under a reformed disciplinary process.

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