Memorandum submitted by the Metropolitan
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) welcomes
the Police Reform Bill. It believes that it provides a sound legislative
framework that will support the modernisation of the police service.
The first section of this submission to the
Home Affairs Select Committee gives details of those matters that
the MPS would have liked to see included in the Bill. Section
2 sets out the issues that the MPS believes would benefit from
further clarification. All other areas of the Bill are supported
by the MPS.
The MPS singles out in the Bill, for particular
support, a set of proposals we have been instrumental in shaping:
to allow chief officers to introduce Community Support Officers
(CSOs), with the discretion to assign them limited police powers.
The MPS regards CSOs as indispensable in a climate where demands
on the force are growing faster than its resources.
The principle that underpins this measure is
that the response to a demand for policing should be at a level
appropriate to that demand. The deployment of hundreds of police
officers to central London security patrols after the September
11th outrages was inefficient but necessary in the absence
of an alternative.
A direct labour force of CSOs, coming under
the control and direction of police, will:
provide a dedicated resource to protect
London against the threat of terrorism,
provide a more continuous visible
uniformed presence in identified public spaces in London,
increase the confidence of London's
communities that anti-social behaviour will be challenged and
help release police officers to tasks
more suited to their training and skills.
While the Metropolitan Special Constabulary
(the "Specials") has historically performed a similar
role, there are limitations on their capacity. First, as a volunteer
force, they cannot offer the all-day or all-week cover often needed.
Second, their numbers are insufficient to meet demand. While the
MPS would welcome new allowances and bonuses for Specials, we
have already worked hard to increase recruitment and retention,
and consider it unlikely that the expected growth will be adequate
to meet demand.
SECTION 1: ITEMS
MPS WOULD WISH
1. Recovery of policing costs at commercial
The MPS was pleased to see mention of this in
the White Paper, and is hopeful that consideration will be given
to including it in the Bill. The cost to the MPS of policing football
matches and other commercial events is considerableeven
with the charges currently made to organisations. For example,
the policing of low-grade games at a London Premiership club costs
the MPS £13,705 with the contribution from the club standing
at only £397. The MPS understands the concern that those
running commercial events for profit already contribute to policing
through precept payments. However, it believes that these payments
are for the day to day policing of London and not the policing
of events that make large profits for the organisers. The MPS
would therefore like to see provisions in the Bill to allow the
recovery of costs from commercial profit making eventsperhaps
with a small adjustment to compensate for precept payments if
this was thought desirable.
We recognise that designing a workable and equitable
mechanism for charging is a real challenge, and we do not wish
to present detailed proposals now. We are aware that the Home
Office has now dedicated staff from the Police Resources Unit
to the task, and is exploring possible cost-recovery measures.
The MPS is keen to contribute to this work.
2. Changes to conditions of service for chief
With the advent of fixed term contracts for
chief officers, difficulties can occur if those contracts end
when a chief officer is suspended during the investigation of
criminal or disciplinary proceedings. As the regulations currently
stand, the police authority has no power to delay the chief officer
retiring from the force. This is not consistent with the arrangements
for Federated and Superintendent ranks where officers who are
suspended can be kept in the employment of the police authority
during disciplinary investigations.
The MPS would like to see new legislation that
would give a power to the police authority to delay retirement
at the end of a chief officer's contract where he or she is suspended
while disciplinary or criminal proceedings are ongoing. The police
authority would need to be given discretion to judge the sort
of proceedings that would warrant such a delay. This legislation
would be consistent with current guidance relating to discipline
proceedings in cases where officers could be medically retired
3. Substance misuse testing
The MPS is aware that the PAB (Police Advisory
Board) has been researching the implementation of compulsory testing
of staff for substance abuse. The opportunity to place such provisions
within the Bill would be welcomed by the MPS.
4. Police complaints and discipline issues
4.1 Written Warnings
Written warnings from a superintendent were
introduced by the Police (Conduct) and Police (Efficiency) Regulations
1999. These regulations provide that an officer who does not admit
the conduct complained of cannot be given a written warning and
will therefore usually appear before a formal misconduct hearing.
The MPS believes that this provision reduces the number of cases
where investigations can be promptly concluded to the satisfaction
of the complainant, the MPS and the PCA. The MPS believes that
the use of written warnings would be enhanced if the regulations
were amended to remove this condition. The officer concerned should
however have the facility of submitting a written response to
4.2 Regulation 15; dismissal of probationary
As a part of the MPS integrity-strengthening
programme, much work has been done to deal with integrity issues
early in the careers of officers. During this process a major
difficulty has emerged; that is the amount of time it can take
to dispense with the service of a recruit who falls short of the
required standards of integrity. This is because recruits are
attested as constables on the first day of initial training and
are then subject to Police Regulations, including the 1999 Conduct
Officers are on probation for their first two
years of service and are subject to Regulation 15 of the Police
Regulations 1995. This enables a chief officer to dispense with
their services if he/she "considers that they are not fitted,
physically or mentally, to perform the duties of their office,
or that they are not likely to become an efficient or well-conducted
constable". However, Home Office guidance states that Regulation
15 should not be used as an alternative means of dismissing a
probationer who should properly face misconduct proceedings. The
consequence of this is that it is not possible for a chief officer
to dispense with the probationer's services until disciplinary
proceedings are concluded, even if a finding of guilt has been
made in court, or an investigating officer has concluded that
a discipline board should be convened. Some officers, who have
been police officers for less than 10 weeks, have been suspended
on full pay for as long as two years.
The MPS would welcome a change to the Home Office
guidance on Regulation 15, or a change to the regulations themselves,
which would allow a chief officer to dispense with the services
of a probationer on the grounds of poor conduct as an alternative
to holding a discipline board. The chief officer would have to
be satisfied of an officer's guilt on the balance of probabilities.
Cases involving criminal allegations would continue to be dealt
with through the criminal courts first, but the question of dismissal
would then be considered under Regulation 15, without a discipline
This proposal would have the immediate effect
of simplifying the current system, speeding it up, and enhancing
the status of a confirmed officer.
4.3 Referral of cases to the CPS
Section 75 Police Act 1996 imposed a requirement
on chief officers to send to the CPS all cases originating from
public complaints where officers are alleged to have committed
criminal offences. There is no similar requirement for criminal
cases originating from internal investigations. The MPS has found
that this requirement can often seriously delay the progress of
the investigation, thereby seriously delaying misconduct proceedings
in the event that criminal charges are not pursued. This delay
is often cited by the accused officer's counsel in misconduct
hearings as an "abuse of process".
This matter has been explored by the Cabinet
Office led "Police Complaints Learning Lab" which is
supported by the Home Office. The MPS would welcome an amendment
to the Police Act which would give more discretion to the chief
officer, thereby aligning the requirements regarding public complaints
with those in internal investigations. The chief officer should
have the freedom to decide not to send a case to the CPS only
if absolutely no evidence of a criminal offence was found or that
the offence was trivial. This revised process could be balanced
by a strengthened appeals process within the Police Complaints
system for those who might dispute the decision not to proceed.
5. Improved management of sickness absence,
and medical retirements
The MPS welcomes the proposal to improve the
management of sickness and medical retirements and commends the
prospect of an Occupational Health Strategy. The further points
below have all been discussed with the Home Office.
5.1 Requirement for staff to co-operate
The MPS believes the Bill should strengthen
the requirement for police staff to co-operate with absence management
provisions. This would include: participating in diagnosis and
appropriate treatment; and making available medical information
on a confidential basis to medical practitioners involved in occupational
5.2 Refusal of medical retirement, by police
authority or chief officer
There are cases where for medical reasons an
officer is not able to perform the full duties of a police constable,
but could undertake a range of duties using police powers and
still appropriate to their medical condition. Current Police Pensions
Regulations have been interpreted by the courts in a way that
restricts managers' ability to maintain police officers in these
roles, requiring them instead to offer a medical retirement. The
MPS believes the Bill should empower chief officers or police
authorities to refuse medical retirement in such circumstances.
5.3 Injury awards
Injury awards are separate from, and in addition
to, ordinary pensions, and can represent considerable payments.
The level of an injury award is assessed not according to the
degree of medical disability, but according to the loss of earning
There are four anomalies here which the Bill
could correct: first, concerning awards following injuries to
officers travelling to and from work. MPS experience is that the
majority of such injuries are not associated in any way with the
injured person acting in the role of police officer, but are predominantly
caused in road traffic accidents. Currently all such injuries,
if disabling, can qualify for an injury award. The MPS would like
to see `non-duty' injuries while travelling to and from work disqualified
by the Bill from injury award eligibility.
The second concerns the assessment of loss of
earning capacity. Given that the level of an injury award is not
assessed according to the degree of medical disability, it is
surprising that the assessment is currently made by a medical
practitioner, often not using any employment information to influence
or support the decision. The MPS believes the Bill should prescribe
assessment procedures that take account of employment information
and are not exclusively taken by medical practitioners.
The third concerns review of injury awards.
Once an injury award is granted, it can only be increased, not
reduced, by review. It cannot be removed unless the recipient
returns to work as a police officer. As with the second anomaly,
since the payment is meant to relate to loss of earning capacity,
the MPS believes the Bill should include provision for reduction
or removal of injury award in cases where employment information
shows the initial assessment of loss of earnings capacity was
The fourth and last concerns the duration of
injury awards. Since awards are linked to earning capacity, which
diminishes after normal retirement age, it is anomalous that injury
awards continue to be paid in full beyond that age, until death.
The MPS believes the Bill should provide for injury awards (which
are in addition to the normal pension) to terminate, or at least
taper, after this age.
5.4 Deferred pensions
Officers required to resign for discipline offences
can often obtain a medical opinion that, due to depression or
other psychiatric condition, they are rendered permanently disabled
from being a police officer. They can then immediately apply for
a deferred pension on the grounds that they are unfit to work.
The MPS believes it is inappropriate that such officers, who may
by their conduct have contributed to this condition, should benefit
from this support. The Bill should enable chief officers or police
authorities to reduce deferred pensions in these cases.
SECTION 2: THE
MPS SEEKS CLARIFICATION
|MPS seeks clarification of:
|Codes of practice for chief officersThe MPS supports the need to provide greater consistency and quality of service across all forces. It believes that the proposed three-tiered approach is an appropriate way of achieving this. However, the MPS believes that this approach would benefit from greater clarity on the face of the Bill around the role of ACPO and the APA in the drafting of codes of practice and in the consultation process.
|Directions to police authorities and chief officersThe MPS believes that it is right for the Government to expect forces to take action to improve efficiency and effectiveness. However, it would seek an assurance that the Home Secretary's directions to police authorities and chief officers acknowledge that different BCUs and forces are characterised by dramatically different socio-economic conditions and communities. It would like to see recommendations made by the Home Secretary for remedial action proven for `scalability' and made in the context of the overall resource deployment of each force.
|Directions to chief officers and removal of senior officersThe MPS would like to see, on the face of the Bill, a clearer explanation of the linkages between the Home Secretary's powers to intervene in forces on grounds of efficiency and effectiveness (clause 5) and his power to require chief officers to retire or resign (clauses 30). It also believes that there should be some clarity about what is meant by `efficiency and effectiveness' in this context.
|Regulation of equipment and of operational procedures and practicesThe MPS fully supports the idea of standardising operational procedures in order to improve professionalism across the service. However, as with clause 2 above, it believes that this approach would benefit from greater clarity around the role of ACPO and the APA in the drafting of these procedures.
|Handling of Complaints and conduct matters (IPCC)This is an area of critical importance to the health of the police service. The MPS has developed a robust proactive approach to the investigation of complaints and conduct matters and would like to offer its support to the proposed IPCC. In particular, the MPS would wish to share with the Commission the lessons it has learnt from the very long and complex investigations it has carried out into serious corruption.
|Inspections of police premises on behalf of the IPCCThe MPS is concerned that this clause will give access to premises or documents in a way that is outside established legal processes. For example, search warrants are currently obtained by police investigators when entering offices on police premises. The MPS would welcome clarification of whether or not clause 18 is intended to relieve IPCC investigators from legal obligations which relate to entering premises.The MPS also believes that the provisions in this clause should not prejudice the legal protection given to some documents by legislation such as the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, Police and Criminal Evidence Act and legal privilege.
|Accreditation under community safety accreditation schemesThe MPS fully supports the proposals in this clause and sees significant benefits for the policing of London. Some clarification is needed, however, about who should accredit national security organisations. If left to local discretion, there may be inconsistencies that could be subject to legal challenge.
|NCS and NCIS to be able to recruit directly from forcesThe MPS fully supports the proposal to give NCS and NCIS the power to recruit directly from forces. That said, it is concerned that this will result in an exodus of its best detectives to national jobs. The fact that a high proportion of NCS and NCIS posts are located in London exacerbates this problem. To address this concern, the MPS would like to see a quota system introduced for London. The national units should only be able to recruit detectives up to a number that is in proportion to the size of the force in relation to overall officer numbers in England and Wales.In addition to a quota, the MPS also believes that the drain of detectives from police forces could be lessened by giving the national units the power to recruit directly from other organisations such as Customs and Excise, the Immigration Service, Prison Service and relevant Military Units.
|Police authorities to produce three-year strategy plansThe MPS believes that it is right to move to three-year plans so that a longer-term view of the direction of the forces can be presented. It welcomes the fact that these plans will cover the same periods as the National Policing Plans.The MPS believes that the planning done by forces would benefit from more clarity around the role of the Home Secretary when he receives the plans submitted to him as directed by clause 66(8).
|Power to modify the functions and structure of PITOThe MPS fully supports the creation of the Science and Technology Group. To get the most from this group, the MPS believes that major investments in IT should take into account the scale of the requirements of the MPS that are significantly different to those in other forces. To achieve this it would seek to be separately represented on the Groupformalising the current ACPO agreement on PITO.
|The Metropolitan Police ServiceFebruary 2002