New regulations which stop police officers from resigning or retiring if they are subject to an allegation that could lead to dismissal come into force today (12 January).
Officers will be prevented from resigning or retiring until any case has concluded or has found that the officer will not face a dismissal hearing.
From 1 December 2013 to 1 August 2014, 144 officers resigned or retired whilst subject to a gross misconduct investigation, preventing them from being held to account for their actions.
A chief officer or Police and Crime Commissioner will only be able to consent to an officer’s resignation or retirement if they are deemed medically unfit or in other exceptional circumstances, for example where a covert criminal investigation could be prejudiced.
These regulations aim to ensure that officers are held to account for their actions, that the truth can be established, that victims of police misconduct and their families are provided justice and that the police learn the full lessons of each incidence of serious misconduct.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
Direct damage has been done to public confidence by cases in which officers escaped justice by resigning or retiring where they might have been dismissed.
The public rightly expects police officers to act with the highest standards of integrity and for those suspected of misconduct to be subject to formal disciplinary proceedings.
The ability of officers to avoid potential dismissal by resigning or retiring is an unacceptable situation. That is why I have introduced these reforms to ensure victims and their families are not denied the truth of police misconduct.