Senior police officers will be given greater powers to sack rogue staff members like from their forces under plans to overhaul the disciplinary process.
Police officers like Wayne Couzens, who murdered Sarah Everard, and David Carrick, who was uncovered as a serial abuser and rapist, will face automatic dismissal if found of gross misconduct.
The reforms will see chief constables, or other senior officers, once again presiding over misconduct hearings.
What are the new powers?
Senior officers will have more powers to root out and sack rogue staff while those who fail vetting checks can also be fired.
Under the new system, a finding of gross misconduct will automatically result in a police officer’s dismissal unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Senior officers will also chair independent panels at misconduct hearings and will have the right to challenge decisions they disagree with, the Home Office said.
Currently, lawyers known as legally qualified chairs (LQCs) oversee police disciplinary panels. This was introduced in 2016 as part of efforts to make the system more transparent but critics say the system is too slow and senior officers are more likely to sack those found guilty of wrongdoing.
Under the changes, independent lawyers will continue to sit on the panel to advise and maintain “rigour”, but now in a supporting role.
The outcome of the hearings will still be determined by a majority panel decision and continue to take place in public.
When will the changes happen?
The changes come after public trust in the police has been damaged by a series of scandals, including the murder of Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens and the unmasking of former police constable David Carrick as a serial abuser and rapist.
The Home Office carried out a review of the police disciplinary system in the wake of the cases.
It is understood that the Government wants to bring in the changes as soon as possible, with hopes for the reform to be in place by next spring.
What has the reaction been?
The head of the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), has previously warned against making chief constables “judge and jury” in disciplinary hearings.
And the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) said the reforms could lead to “kangaroo courts”.
But Gavin Stephens, one of Britain’s most senior officers as chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, welcomed the plans, selling PA news agency they will put police chiefs “back in control” of being able to root out corrupt staff members.
Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has pushed for force chiefs to have the final say on which officers are sacked, estimating that there are hundreds of rogue officers but the rules made him powerless to dismiss them.
He said: “I’m grateful to the Government for recognising the need for substantial change that will empower chief officers in our fight to uphold the highest standards and restore confidence in policing.
“The flaws in the existing regulations have contributed to our inability to fully address the systemic issues of poor standards and misconduct.
“Chief officers are held to account for the service we deliver and for the standards we uphold which is why I have been persistent in calling for us to have the powers to act decisively and without bureaucratic delays when we identify those who have no place in policing.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “Corrupt police officers and those who behave poorly or fail vetting must be kicked out of our forces. For too long our police chiefs have not had the powers they need to root out those who have no place wearing the uniform.
“Now they can take swift and robust action to sack officers who should not be serving our communities.”
Policing minister Chris Philp said confidence in forces has been “rocked” and “public trust must be restored”, adding: “These changes will ensure that police chiefs will have the ability to act fast to remove officers guilty of serious misconduct or who are poorly performing.”
But the head of the IOPC, Tom Whiting, said LQCs were brought in to ensure “much-needed independence and more objectivity to the system”.
The IOPC wants lawyers to be in charge of misconduct hearings, but chief constables to decide on the punishment if wrongdoing is proven.
John Bassett, a barrister representing the National Association of Legally Qualified Chairs, speaking in a personal capacity, said he is “disappointed”, saying the proposed changes are a “fudge” which do not address the desired issues.
He said: “No-one has yet explained to me or can present a convincing argument as to why the present system does not fulfil that role of being an open, transparent and fair process.
“Police officers, as so-called officers of the crown, do not have a right to claim unfair dismissal, and in those circumstances the best and at present the only way of ensuring that there is a fair outcome, if it resulted in dismissal, is by having a legally qualified chair assisting and advising the panel on the proper procedure.
“Otherwise you’re going back to a situation where there is a real risk that effectively by reverting to the pre-2016 system or something similar, police officers or police chiefs are marking their own homework.
“The decision is made on their behalf whether to investigate in the first place, the decision is made on their behalf whether to refer officers to misconduct hearings and, if ultimately they are going to have the responsibility for deciding on dismissal, it doesn’t strike me – and I doubt it will strike many members of the public – as a fair and open system.”