This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Section 38 & misconduct

This morning I had the pleasure of reading through the John Harris Memorial Lecture that Tom Winsor (HMCIC) gave to assembled guests of the Police Foundation in the middle of July this year. He has joined an illustrious list of previous lecturers which you can see here.

In case you think I am being tongue in cheek: I am not. His words deserve your attention particularly in the light of events in some police areas in recent weeks. His lecture was entitled Operational independence and the new accountability of policing and he focused on the legalities underpinning the relationship between the PCCs and Chief Constables in the new governance environment.

I am told that the lecture is better read than listened to (an option on the Police Foundation site linked above) since it was quite intense. Apparently, even the tweeters had to give up their multi-tasking and listen closely! Certainly, I had to read a few paragraphs and sentences more than once to understand entirely the point he was making. But I do commend it to you.

If I was being picky, I was somewhat surprised he did not mention the Independent Police Complaints Commission nor reference the excellent words of the Patten Report on operational accountability.

In the lecture, Tom Winsor unpicks the precise pieces of legislation that relate to the PCC/CC relationship and the inviolability of operational independence (at least in legislative theory...)

I am not going to summarise the piece, but I will lift just one quote (with my added emphasis):
It follows that the section 38 power can only properly be exercised for reasons which are related to the performance by the chief constable of these duties and functions and which affect the achievement of local policing needs and related priorities, and not misconduct.
I think that all PCCs and Chief Constables would be well advised to read this lecture, if they have not done so already...

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