Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Metropolitan Police Service


  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.


1.  Recovery of policing costs at commercial events

  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 considerable—even 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 events—perhaps 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 officers

  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 whilst suspended.

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 the warning.

4.2  Regulation 15; dismissal of probationary constables

  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 Regulations.

  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 hearing intervening.

  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 health support.

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 capacity.

  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 inaccurate.

  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.


ClauseMPS seeks clarification of:
2Codes 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.
4/5Directions 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.
5/30Directions 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.
6/7Regulation 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.
12/13/14/19Handling 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.
18Inspections 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.
35Accreditation 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.
65NCS 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.
66Police 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).
70Power 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 Group—formalising the current ACPO agreement on PITO.
The Metropolitan Police ServiceFebruary 2002

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