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Thursday, January 15, 1998 Published at 21:16 GMT


New moves to weed out corrupt police officers
image: [ Sir Paul Condon admitted he had corrupt police in his force ]
Sir Paul Condon admitted he had corrupt police in his force

Allegations of corruption and dishonesty against police will be handled more quickly under proposals announced by MPs.

Mike Bennett of the policeman's union opposes changes (42")
The changes to the disciplinary system would make it easier to sack or discipline police officers found guilty of misconduct.

If the Government backs the Home Affairs Select Committee's recommendations, major changes in the police complaints procedure are likely.

[ image: Chris Mullin: complainers
Chris Mullin: complainers "have only themselves to blame"
The committee chairman, Labour MP Chris Mullin, said: "Over the last few years the police disciplinary system has become virtually paralysed.

"There is no doubt that a small minority of officers ... have effectively subverted the system by exploiting every conceivable loophole."

Chris Mullin says the "paralysis" must be fixed (35")
The committee also advised senior management in the police to make "more robust use" of the powers they already have.

Proposals aimed at restoring public confidence

Among those who gave evidence to the select committee was the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon.

[ image: A tough job, but MPs say corruption must be weeded out]
A tough job, but MPs say corruption must be weeded out
He said a minority of corrupt officers within his force was sapping the morale of colleagues.

The committee's proposals are aimed at halting the damage this causes to public confidence.

The core of its recommendations is a reduction in the burden of proof needed to find police guilty of misconduct.

It suggests replacing the criminal standard of "beyond reasonable doubt" with a decision taken "on the balance of probabilities", speeding up disciplinary procedures.

Brian Mackenzie, Chairman of the Police Superintendants Association, supports fast-track (46")
The committee also wants rules to be tightened to stop officers under suspicion from wriggling out of hearings by claiming illness.

The report highlights the case of Detective Sergeant Tom Bradley who was suspended for alleged moonlighting.

He avoided disciplinary hearings against him by retiring on the grounds of ill health.

Inquiries 'should be moved'

The committee's final recommendation is that police investigations should be moved outside the police system.

[ image: Police investigations have long been carried out internally]
Police investigations have long been carried out internally
Civil liberties groups emphasised this as the key point to come out of any reform of the police complaints system.

Both the Police Complaints Authority and the Association of Chief Police Officers welcomed the report.

ACPO president, West Mercia chief Constable David Blakey, said: "The overwhelming majority of police officers have nothing to fear from these proposals and will be pleased that, if they are implemented, the tiny minority of wrongdoers in the service will be able to be dealt with more effectively."

The Police Superintendents Association of England and Wales, while agreeing with most of the report, objected to the new lower standard of proof for serious cases, claiming the change could leave officers exposed to "malicious complaints."

It also opposed the committee's proposal to make final reports written by investigating officers public.

Mike Bennett, the Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, the policeman's union, said that corruption should be dealt with in the courts, not through disciplinary procedures.

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