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Half of Elected UK Police Chiefs Accused of Misconduct: Watchdog

© AP/FOTOLINKBritish police officers patrol the road leading to Kensington Palace
British police officers patrol the road leading to Kensington Palace - Sputnik International
The British parliament, along with a non-aligned watchdog, has launched a probe into misconduct allegations against half of the elected police chiefs of England and Wales.

MOSCOW, December 1 (Sputnik) — The Parliament of the UK has launched a probe into misconduct allegations against 23 out of 41 elected police commissioners, in line with measures to boost transparency and accountability of law enforcement.

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A parliamentary committee is intending to investigate an increase in complaints, recently filed against criminal police chiefs of England and Wales. According to the recent reports by the non-aligned Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), 23 of the 41 recently elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are subject of misconduct allegations.

The IPCC has also launched consultations in order to determine whether the misconduct hearings should be held in public, wholly or partly, in case there’s significant public interest for the case. The IPCC consultations will last until 10 December.

The institution of elected police chiefs in England and Wales was implemented in 2012 in accordance with the initiative of Theresa May, the Conservative Home Secretary. The aim of the initiative was to increase public awareness of police business, including some internal issues, thus contributing to public trust in law enforcement. According to the legislation, the PCCs, elected for 4-year terms, can be voted out of office. The Home Office initiative sparked some controversy back in 2012 with the low turnout at the ballot box, and today’s growing amount of misconduct allegations made against the elected officials has spurred another round of debate on the PCCs’ trustworthiness.

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“What it shows is that people appear to have lost confidence with the office to such an extent that there is the equivalent of one complaint per police authority,” Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs committee of the Labour Party said as quoted by the Times.

There is growing demand for reform in the nation’s policing, coming from the Labour shadow cabinet and some civil society organizations. The most prominent case of the alleged misconduct is the role of Shaun Wrightm, the PCC for South Yorkshire, in the highly-publicized Rotherham child sex exploitation controversy.  The IPCC is now conducting an investigation aiming to determine whether Commissioner Wright was aware of the alleged child sexual abuse as a then-Rotherham metropolitan borough council.

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The Times reports that between 2012 and 31 October this year the total number of complaints against the 23 PCCs has amounted 44. The IPCC has conducted preliminary investigations recently and rebuffed 12 of the complaints as they only referred to the procedural side of the PCCs work. Only 6 complaints evolved into proper investigations. 25 allegations were returned back to municipal and county police and crime panels as not serious enough. The remaining one allegation was directed to the City of London police.

Another prominent case, included in the ICSS and the parliamentary probes, was initiated after accusations of embezzlement were raised against Lancashire’s PCC Clive Grunshaw. The watchdog has investigated into his expenses as a county counselor of the Labour Party. Yet another IPCC file includes allegations of driving without a proper automobile insurance against PCC of Kent Ann Barnes.

Some of the PCCs earn up to 100,000 GBP a year.

Among the allegations the IPCC is investigating, are those including leaked personal data and other confidential information, as well as possible slander, meaning that the watchdog has to proceed with caution, particularly since the parliament is now involved. It is worth noting that most scandalous allegations made against some of the PCCs deal with matters that happened before they were elected police chiefs and therefore do not interfere directly with public trust in local police.

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