Should Police Officers with Criminal Records be Sacked?

I wish you a very healthy and happy New Year!

When I served with Nottinghamshire Police, years ago, four police officers went to a pub and crashed the car on the way home. Fearing a conviction for drink and/or careless driving, they walked home and reported the car stolen. The duty inspector went to interview them and suspected that they were lying about the car being stolen. He invited them to reconsider their story and said he would be back in ten minutes. The four officers maintained their lies and were subsequently convicted of wasting police time. They were disciplined by the chief constable, but kept their jobs.

Would you trust these officers, who readily conspired to lie to their managers? Or serving Surrey officers convicted of obstructing police, wounding, drunk driving and resisting arrest?

It is difficult to comment, perhaps, without knowing more If you get a refund, let us know in the reclaims success details of individual cases, but many of us civilians would lose our jobs for such convictions. Employment contracts often make criminal convictions (other than minor driving offences) a dismissal offence. One of my clients recently dismissed a trainee for drunk driving, partly on the grounds that the offence itself destroyed the relationship of trust and confidence.

The public is entitled to expect police officers to have high standards of integrity. Most have, in my experience, but tolerance of ‘bad apples’ undermines confidence in the police as a whole. How do you know whether the officer you are dealing with has integrity?

Police officers should have the confidence of knowing that any criminal conviction (other than minor driving offences) will lead to dismissal. This is one of the few areas, in my mind, where a ‘zero tolerance’ policy is justified. The are many young people with integrity waiting to join the police, but very few vacancies.

Defence solicitors need to know about police convictions, so that they can question the integrity of convicted officers in court.

Another worrying factor is this. Police officers deal with the criminal law all day long. They are experts at knowing the loopholes in how to evade prosecution and conviction. If they are prosecuted, they know the best defence solicitors and barristers to employ. Convictions are few and far between, which means actual convictions are inevitably ‘the tip of the iceberg’. The police need, as Sir Robert Mark said when appointed as Metropolitan Police Commissioner, ‘to bring morality back into fashion’.

What do you think?

Geoffrey Bignell

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