Police reverse decision to hold misconduct hearing for former officer behind closed doors

North Yorkshire Police has reversed a decision to hold the misconduct hearing of a former officer behind closed doors.

Former officer Robert Higgs is accused of providing a “misleading and dishonest account of his capabilities” to his superiors between 2019 and 2020

The force has decided the hearing examining allegations made against Robert Higgs will now be conducted in the public.

It initially decided the hearing, which is due to begin at 10am on October 20 and last three days, should be private and the former officer should remain anonymous.

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Mr Higgs has been accused of providing “a misleading and dishonest account of his capabilities” to his superiors while serving as an officer between February 2019 and October 2020, according to a statement released by the force.

It adds: “Some of the restrictions communicated by the former officer include his inability to undertake any frontline duties, inability to wear police uniform, inability to being exposed to an operational environment including being placed in a pressurised environment which may encounter volatile or spontaneous situations.

“It is alleged that these indications were untrue or exaggerated. Having then failed to secure a position in North Yorkshire Police which was acceptable to the former officer, an application was made to the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP).

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“This application indicated that there were no significant limitations on his capabilities, contrary to what line managers, supervision and medical professionals had been advised.”

It comes after after former Prime Minister Theresa May said it is "immensely disappointing” that some police forces are failing to open themselves up to scrutiny by holding misconduct hearings in private.

The Conservative politician, who ordered all forces to hold misconduct hearings in public when she was home secretary in 2015, was commenting on an analysis by The Times.

The newspaper reported that figures obtained under Freedom of Information showed there have been 1,147 hearings since 2018. Forces were unable to say whether 502 of them were held in public or private, and of the remaining 645 hearings, one in four were held in private.

Writing in the newspaper, she said: “It leaves the impression that the police, whose job it is to protect the public, are prioritising the reputation of the institution over the delivery of justice.”

The MP said there is “a deep-rooted and long-standing issue”, citing several examples including Hillsborough and the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.