This afternoon, a public police disciplinary tribunal decided on the seriousness of misconduct by two Officers who had admitted breaching the standards of expected behaviour.
The hearing was in respect of a complaint lodged by my client, Alex Faragher. I have previously blogged on this case here, where I explained why police misconduct investigations must be reformed and later asked if the police are guilty of gross misconduct.
Sadly, my comments in the conclusion of the earlier post about a perception of bias have been borne out by today’s proceedings.
The disciplinary panel at today’s tribunal was made up of two senior police officers, Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale (Panel Chairman), Detective Superintendent Blackburn, and an independent lay individual, David Bowden.
Police Disciplinary Tribunal Finding
After consideration of the facts and on the basis of the Officers’ record, the disciplinary panel decided that their behaviour was misconduct only rather than gross misconduct.
I am dismayed by this verdict.
Is it right and proper that these two men, who admitted their disgraceful misconduct, continue to be employed as police officers for West Midlands Police?
After much publicity, certain changes have been introduced to the way that police officers are disciplined so as to create a “more robust, independent and transparent” police disciplinary system.
One of the changes introduced is holding misconduct hearings in public. As I have previously said, that’s a start.
Sadly for Ms Faragher and so many others, the system hasn’t changed materially in that the police continue to prosecute, defend, and sit in judgement on themselves.
Disciplinary Tribunal Punishment
Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said the voicemail comments fell “substantially below what is expected of a West Midlands Police officer”.
However, he added: “The panel assess that the breach does not require the full range of sanctions, and that it amounts to misconduct.”
The punishment? Both Officers have been issued with written warnings.
My client, who attended both days of the police disciplinary tribunal, is extremely disappointed with not only the process, but also the findings, and result.
As a woman who was an alleged victim of domestic violence, all she wanted was to be treated with respect and professionalism. After being treated so badly by the two Officers she feels that the disciplinary tribunal has added insult to injury by letting the Officers off the hook.
She is also concerned that this sends a message about how West Midlands Police treat victims of crimes (in particular domestic violence against women) and that others might be put off reporting crime.
The panel at the police disciplinary tribunal had an opportunity to right a wrong and deal with these concerns. They failed.
Ms Faragher is now en route to ITV studios to be interviewed. The panel at the police disciplinary tribunal and two Officers may think that this matter is now settled. But for her, this story is not over.
UPDATE 29 October 2015: Click here to watch the tv news report.
Contact me for help with your civil action against the police using the online form below or via my firm’s website.