Proposals to introduce legislation that will prevent police officers who are made subject to investigations into their conduct from resigning or retiring have been made. The law will stop officers from ‘side-stepping’ dismissal as an outcome of their misconduct hearings and could be implemented before the end of this year.

The plans to implement such legislation come too late to prevent Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Assistant Chief Constable, Terry Sweeney, retiring at the end of October despite two ongoing investigations into his conduct.

ACC Sweeney was served with a gross misconduct notice in relation to the GMP’s disposal of the victims of Harold Shipman’s body parts. He was also served with a criminal and gross misconduct notice in respect of his role in an investigation into a suspect sex offender which has been stipulated to have been poorly-handled.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is conducting the two misconduct investigations and the decision of retirement triggered an angry response from them. ACC Sweeney will only be interviewed by the IPCC in respect of the alleged misconduct by him and he will escape any disciplinary action from the Police Force due to his retirement. He will of course, also receive a pension.

The IPCC can not prevent officers from retiring or resigning. An officer does have a right to retire after 30 years of service but it has been highlighted that ACC Sweeney has not yet reached that point. The IPCC Commissioner managing the investigations of ACC Sweeney’s misconduct, Jan Williams, made a statement following the announcement of ACC Sweeney’s retirement;

“A police officer resigning when subject to investigation can frustrate our investigations, leaving important questions unanswered… Such a practice can only be damaging to public confidence in policing.”

Suggestions were also made by the Home Office to create a national register, which would allow forces to share information about officers who have been subjected to discipline. It is thought that measures such as this would improve the general public’s overall confidence in policing.

At Farleys, our specialised Actions Against the Police team have a great deal of experience in bringing claims against the police where they have acted inappropriately. For further information or to speak to us about pursuing a claim against the Police, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us by email or call us on 0845 050 1958.