Posted: Tuesday 17th February 2015
It’s been some time since I was last able to update you on Chief Constable Nick Gargan’s gross misconduct hearing. During that time we’ve been making arrangements for the hearing and I wanted to share with you what I can. I’ve said from the start that I want to be as open as I can be about the process.
The misconduct hearing will begin on Monday April 20th and is currently scheduled to last five days. The case will be heard by an independent panel chaired by Dorian Lovell-Pank QC. He will be joined on the panel by John Rickard, an independent person from outside Avon and Somerset and an Inspector from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) – still to be appointed - and nominated by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary. The panel was appointed in accordance with strict criteria set out under Police (Conduct) Regulations.
I will not be a part of that panel nor involved in the hearing at all. Once the hearing has concluded the panel will retire to consider whether the allegations are proven and, if so, what sanction they recommend. They will present me with their report within a few days of the hearing concluding. I will publish the panel’s findings as soon as I’m able to do so.
It does seem to have taken a long time to get to this point but as many of you will know, the disciplinary process is set out under police conduct regulations. These are very prescriptive in terms of both the arrangements for the hearing and the procedure to be followed in readiness for the hearing. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s important we follow the process and get it right.
I was hoping that we’d be in a position to hold the hearing in January or February. However, we’ve faced delays not only in the nomination by the HMIC of their representative on the panel (because of a number of Inspectors’ working relationships with Nick Gargan) and in finding a date convenient to all panel members, but also following a request by Chief Constable Nick Gargan for an extension to the deadline by which he must provide to me his response to the allegations he faces. This has meant that the earliest the panel could meet and hear the case is on April 20th.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission can direct the panel to hold all or part of the misconduct hearing in public. Shortly before Christmas, the IPCC held a consultation with various parties and in my response told them that I supported the hearing being held in public but that appropriate safeguards needed to be put in place to protect the witnesses. After considering all the responses received during the consultation the IPCC decided that the hearing should be held in private.
Whilst overseeing the gross misconduct process is an important part of the PCC role, business continues as normal and there is a lot to be done to help make sure policing locally is as strong as it can be. In particular, I’m very excited about the introduction of new services for victims which have been commissioned by my team and launch in April, we’re continuing to work on our new strategic alliance with Wiltshire Police and we’ve just had the police budget for next year signed off by the Police and Crime Panel.
Until next time,