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Page last updated at 14:24 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 15:24 UK

Statement from Northumbria police chief

Panorama: The Secret Policeman Returns featured an interview with Mr Jeff Sidhu, a former police officer who was dismissed from Northumbria Police on 6 November 2007. In the programme he claims that after he made a complaint in 1999 about racism and started tribunal proceedings, Northumbria Police targeted him for criminal investigation. In response to Mr Sidhu's claims, the Chief Constable of Northumbria Police, Mike Craik has made the following statement:

"The serious allegations of racism of which I have been notified are untrue and highly defamatory of me and members of my force. Mr Sidhu was neither disproportionately nor unfairly targeted for investigation by Northumbria Police.

"His allegations have been the subject of investigation and found to be without merit.

"Given Mr Sidhu's public attack and wrongful accusations, it is in the public interest that his record be set out.

"Whilst in his probation, he pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct at a Misconduct Hearing. Mr Sidhu admitted making a false allegation of racial abuse in an effort to deflect criticism away from himself. He was given another chance.

"He has made many allegations of racial discrimination against his colleagues which he claimed had occurred throughout his career. Each and every one of those allegations was taken very seriously and vigorously investigated. Not only was no evidence found to substantiate those allegations, evidence was found to prove that some allegations were patently untrue. Some allegations appeared to be an attempt to deflect criticism from himself, when he was spoken to about concerns with his own performance.

"Mr Sidhu brought two cases of racial discrimination and two cases of victimisation to an Employment Tribunal in which he made many allegations. All of his allegations were tried in the public domain before an independent Tribunal. The Tribunal found each case 'not well founded' and the cases were dismissed. This included allegations where he suggested he had been wrongly investigated in relation to criminal allegations made against him.

"Mr Sidhu has been subject to investigation by this Force both before, and after his Employment Tribunal. He has been treated in exactly the same way as any other officer would have been treated had the same allegations been made against him/her. I have a duty to ensure criminal allegations and/or allegations of misconduct are investigated without fear or favour. The evidence is then placed before the independent Crown Prosecution Service who decide whether or not to prosecute.

"Criminal proceedings may be discontinued for many reasons for example if a witness no longer wishes to give evidence. Whether or not there are any criminal proceedings, the issue of whether or not there is any misconduct is always considered separately. The standard of proof in misconduct proceedings is the 'balance of probabilities,' the standard of proof in criminal proceedings is 'beyond reasonable doubt'.

"As Chief Constable I can say that Mr Sidhu was investigated in response to well founded allegations. I cannot decide not to investigate a complaint made against an officer merely because that officer is black or because that officer has previously commenced Employment Tribunal proceedings.

"It is also untrue that Mr Sidhu was the subject of surveillance. The law on the interception of telephone communications is very specific and highly regulated. Any application to the Home Secretary under these circumstances would have been bound to fail. Similarly, any form of surveillance is also highly regulated

"Regarding disproportionality, I commissioned an internal review to look at the potential for any disproportionality. This review was updated very recently. The same statistical problems which initially arose from small numbers are still apparent and any conclusions are difficult to draw when the number of black and ethnic minority officers within the Force remains so small.

"However, I further commissioned a completely independent review of misconduct cases handled by Northumbria Police Professional Standards and Integrity Departments, which included the question whether there was any disproportionality. The investigation was carried out by Sir Dan Crompton ex HMI who concluded inter alia:

"'I am satisfied that Force processes, practices and policies in respect of all the case files have been consistent, with no evidence emerging of disparity between one category (minority ethnic officers) and the other (non minority ethnic officers or civilians). The approach in each case has been proportional, balanced and non discriminatory.'

"The content of this report was shared with the Black Police Association who accepted the findings.

"Mr Sidhu was dismissed from Northumbria Police following a hearing before an independent Tribunal. None of the officers hearing his case were from Northumbria Police. He admitted one of the allegations, namely wrongfully accessing police held personal data belonging to another for his own benefit. The background circumstances to that offence were extremely serious. The panel stated that he had shown 'an utter disregard of the expectations placed upon him a professional police officer in a position of significant trust and privilege'. They considered it to be "an extremely serious and intentional breach due to this exacerbating feature".

"He subsequently applied for a Chief Constable review which was undertaken by a Chief Constable from another Force, who upheld the decision of the panel.

"He has exercised his right of appeal in relation to the breaches which he continues to deny. His appeal will be heard by the Police Appeals Tribunal which again will be independent. Given that those proceedings are yet to be heard it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on those matters at this stage. I will continue to take proper steps to maintain the integrity of my force and the integrity of the officers and staff, who serve the public whatever their ethnicity or gender."



SEE ALSO
The Secret Policeman
03 Oct 08 |  Panorama

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