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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Policing Dyfed Powys

Having just finished Alison Halford's book, "Leeks from the Backbenches", I now know a lot more about the workings of Police Authorities. I was still surprised though that Dyfed Powys Police Authority agreed to let their Chief Constable take early retirement, effectively stopping part of an IPPC investigation.

There is no doubt that Terry Grange was an effective and well-liked Chief Constable. It was therefore a shock to find that he was the Dyfed-Powys police officer who was being investigated regarding misuse of the police computer system and alleged financial irregularities. Although the Police Authority's decision means that the first part of the investigation will now be dropped the IPPC will still be looking into the financial issues.

Good practice as I understand it is that public servants should not be allowed to take early retirement when they are facing an investigation into their conduct. Instead the mechanism of a neutral suspension should be pursued.

This belief is supported by the comments of Helen Mary Jones, who told the Western Mail that when serious allegations are made against police officers, they are usually not allowed to retire because internal decisions could be taken that might impinge on their pension entitlement. It also removes the possibility of dismissal or other disciplinary sanctions.

She adds: "It is vital for the confidence of the public in our police service that any decisions are made with the maximum possible transparency. I shall be making that point forcibly to the police authority.”

I am astonished that Dyfed Powys Police Authority believe that their actions are appropriate. They have introduced opacity into the process and prevented the full consideration of an allegation that it is in the public interest to clear up. It is too late to go back on that now of course but it would be useful if the Police Authority gave us the benefit of an explanation nevertheless.
Agreed. Whatever the police authority's personal regard for Terry Grange, justice must be seen to be done.
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