Less than 10% of police officers accused of misconduct are dismissed

In the past five years, over 20,000 UK police officers and staff have taken part in psychological surveillance programmes. Image: Distinctive Shots / Shutterstock.com

Fewer than one in 10 (8.4%) police officers accused of committing gross misconduct are dismissed, new figures suggest.

Of the 641 police officers in England and Wales found to have seriously breached standards between 2015 and 2020, only 54 lost their jobs following internal disciplinary action, according to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Another 848 faced claims of possible misconduct, but only 363 of the total misconduct claims were upheld following recommendations from the watchdog.

The IOPC is responsible for overseeing the police complaints system in England and Wales. The most serious and sensitive cases are dealt with by the IOPC, with most complaints handled by local forces themselves.

Commenting on the figures, published by the Guardian, fair policing campaigner Katrina Ffrench said: “It is incredibly concerning that people enforcing the law are able to remain in positions of power despite having gross misconduct allegations against them proven.

“If communities that are distrustful of policing, due to lived experiences, are to believe the institution is fair and there are consequences for bad behaviour, the IOPC must do a better job.”

A spokesperson for the IOPC said: “The majority of public complaints and allegations of misconduct are rightly dealt with by police forces themselves. The discipline system is the responsibility of police forces and is administered by them.

“Very few cases referred to and investigated by the IOPC will result in criminal prosecution because only a small proportion of those matters involve allegations of criminal activity. Prosecution isn’t the only route for holding police officers accountable for wrongdoing and only applies where criminality is involved.

“Disciplinary action can range from dismissal and reduction in rank to written warnings, all of which are determined by misconduct panels led by legally qualified chairs for misconduct hearings and senior police officers for misconduct meetings, not the IOPC.”

Earlier this month it was revealed that three police officers at Hampshire Constabulary’s serious organised crime unit were sacked for gross misconduct after complaints of racist, sexist and homophobic behaviour.

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