Six former Home Secretaries write to Suella Braverman in support of police reform plans

30 August 2023, 11:23 | Updated: 30 August 2023, 14:57

Home Secretary Suella Braverman during a visit to Greater Manchester Police HQ in Manchester, as part of an announcement on police 'pursuing all reasonable lines of inquiry to solve more crime'. Picture date: Monday August 28, 2023.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman during a visit to Greater Manchester Police HQ in Manchester, as part of an announcement on police 'pursuing all reasonable lines of inquiry to solve more crime'. Picture date: Monday August 28, 2023. Picture: Alamy
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Six former Home Secretaries have written to Suella Braverman to support plans for Chief Constables to be able to sack officers guilty of misconduct.

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Police chiefs will have more powers to sack officers found guilty of wrongdoing under Government plans to reform the disciplinary system, it has been reported.

A cross-party group of former Home Secretaries has written to the Suella Braverman supporting the bill, and demanding bold action from ministers.

The letter comes after claims from police chiefs the current Home Secretary is interfering with their operational independence by demanding forces pursue all reasonable crime leads at a time when their resources are being outstripped by a rise in offences.

The letter, exclusively obtained by LBC Reporter Henry Riley, said: "The public deserves to have full confidence in the officers who have been tasked with upholding the law and keeping them safe.

"This Bill would help take us a big step towards achieving that. 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."

It was signed by:

  • David Blunkett
  • Ken Baker
  • Alan Johnson
  • Michael Howard
  • John Reid
  • Jack Straw
The letter from former Home Secretaries to Suella Braverman
The letter from former Home Secretaries to Suella Braverman. Picture: LBC

Proposals drawn up by policing minister Chris Philp will be unveiled this week as part of a "crime week" of policy announcements planned by Downing Street, according to The Telegraph.

Ministers hope the change will help rebuild public trust in the police which has been damaged by a series of scandals including the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer and ex-Pc David Carrick being unmasked as a serial abuser and rapist.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk told the newspaper that the new rules will allow chief constables to "act quickly to root out these bad actors".

"It's absolutely critical that forces can move very quickly to root out these sorts of offenders who do such damage to public confidence in policing," he said.

Britain's most senior officer, Sir Mark Rowley, has been pushing for force chiefs rather than independent lawyers to have the final say on which officers are sacked.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has estimated that hundreds of "rogue" officers in his force have been getting away with misconduct and even criminal behaviour, but he currently has no way of removing them.

Lawyers known as Legally Qualified Chairs were brought in to oversee police disciplinary panels in 2016 in a bid to make the system more transparent, but critics say it is too slow and senior officers are more likely to sack those found guilty of wrongdoing.

Under the proposed rules, chief constables will preside over disciplinary hearings and the process for axing rogue officers will be streamlined, The Telegraph reported.

The paper also said officers who fail to keep their vetting status up to date will be dismissed.

But the head of the police watchdog has warned against making chief constables "judge and jury" in internal disciplinary hearings.

Sir Mark Rowley joins Tom Swarbrick

Tom Whiting, acting director-general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), said last week that Legally Qualified Chairs were introduced "to bring much-needed independence and more objectivity to the system".

"When confidence in policing has been severely dented by misconduct cases of the worst kind, independence must remain at the core of the police disciplinary system," he wrote in a letter to The Times.

The IOPC wants lawyers to be in charge of misconduct hearings, but chief constables to decide on the punishment if wrongdoing is proven.

Downing Street has been contacted for comment.

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