Retired officers’ protection may end

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LABOUR MPs want new powers for the police watchdog to be able to sanction retired officers found to have committed serious misconduct while in office.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said it will continue its inquiries into Sir Norman Bettison in case any criminal offences are uncovered, but that it does not have the power to bring misconduct proceedings against retired officers.

Merseyside MP Maria Eagle told the Yorkshire Post yesterday “there may well be a case” for extending the IPCC’s powers.

Her remarks follow calls from Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper for the system to change.

The Pontefract MP told MPs it was “very troubling” that retired officers are not liable for misconduct sanctions.

“It makes it possible for officers who have committed serious misconduct to retire on full pension without any further investigation or sanction,” she said this week.

“Given that 23 years have passed since Hillsborough, this is a particularly sensitive concern. Many officers have already retired, and many more may do so before investigations are concluded.

“If officers have taken early retirement or retired at the normal age, further investigations or sanctions should be considered if there was serious misconduct while they were in office.”

Home Secretary Theresa May has already agreed to hold cross-party talks with Ms Cooper over giving new emergency powers to the IPCC in the wake of the Hillsborough report, including letting investigators compel witnesses and retired officers to give evidence.

The problem was highlighted in February when the IPCC produced a critical report into former North Yorkshire deputy chief constable Adam Briggs, who had stepped down a year before.

That report, which covered Mr Briggs’ use of public funds to pay for “executive coaching”, said he could have faced gross misconduct proceedings if he had remained in post. It also revealed Mr Briggs had not responded to questions put to him.

However, no sanctions could be taken against him once he had retired.