Legally qualified chairs
On this page you will find more information about legally qualified chairs who serve on police misconduct hearing panels.
A police misconduct hearing panel is likely to be arranged to hear allegations of serious cases of misconduct by police officers or special constables. The maximum outcome at a hearing would be dismissal from the police service without notice. Cases would include for example, allegations of criminal acts, serious road traffic matters such as drink/driving and other serious breaches of the standards of professional behaviour expected of police officers, such as neglect of duty. Misconduct hearings can also be convened to consider the final stages of action under performance regulations, where police officers can be dismissed for unsatisfactory performance or attendance.
Following a public consultation led by the Home Secretary in the autumn of 2014, changes were made to the police disciplinary system for the purposes of more transparency, independence and justice. This included holding police misconduct hearings in public (from May 2015) and replacing Chief police officers (as Chairs), with independent legally qualified chairs (from January 2016).
Chairs must satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a 5-year basis as set out in section 50 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. A Chair is selected from a list of independent legally qualified persons appointed by Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to conduct misconduct hearings for special constables and police officers (but not senior police officers), and is governed by Police Conduct Regulations.
A misconduct hearing panel consists of three people: the Chair, a police officer of the rank of superintendent or above, and an independent member.
As a general principle, selection of a Chair for a particular hearing will be conducted on a rota basis, with the next person on the list being appointed to Chair the hearing. This is to ensure that the process is fair.
When hearing cases the Chair will be expected to have read the papers in advance. At the end of the hearing, they are required to provide full reasons in writing for the misconduct hearing panel’s decision.
The key responsibilities include:
- Reading and assimilating misconduct papers before any hearing commences which may include studying complex documented evidence;
- Making and documenting pre-hearing decisions on whether witnesses are permitted to be called to give evidence at the hearing and whether to require notice of the hearing as well as any other legal issues raised before the hearing including whether all or part of the hearing should not be in public;
- Ensuring that the police officer, or special constable (who are not always legally represented) are able to present their case and have it considered fully and fairly;
- Ensuring that hearings are conducted efficiently and effectively in a manner compatible with the interests of natural justice;
- Ensuring the procedure that is followed complies with the Regulations.
- With the other misconduct hearing panel members, deciding the outcomes - for example whether the conduct of the officer concerned amounts to misconduct or gross misconduct (or neither), and imposing any disciplinary sanction as appropriate, or in the case of a finding of no misconduct, to take no further action.
Misconduct cases are triggered by the officer receiving notice of misconduct proceedings. Cases are unpredictable in nature, and may last a couple of days, or a number of weeks. The PCC holds a list of legally qualified chairs who have been selected through an appointment process, and a Chair is selected for each hearing on a rota basis (depending on availability). On average, each Chair may be asked to Chair a hearing two or three times in a 12 month period. In addition to chairing misconduct hearings, there is a requirement to attend training and other relevant events.
Misconduct panel hearings are usually held in Exeter or Winfrith, however there may be opportunity to Chair hearings across the country should we receive a request from another PCCs office, for example if they cannot source an available LQC locally.
When we have a vacancy, we will advertise this on our recruitment pages on our website, as well as through other channels as appropriate, for example the Neighbourhood Alert system (details on joining can be found here), and through relevant vocational networks or publications. You can find out more about our commitment to enable all sections of our communities to get involved in becoming a public appointee, or a volunteer here.
Personnel under the direction and control of any constabulary/police force or office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) in England and Wales, or qualified lawyers employed by any constabulary, police force or OPCC in England and Wales are not eligible to apply.
Appointment as a legally qualified chair is initially for four years with the opportunity by mutual agreement to extend for a further four year fixed term, unless there are circumstances during either term whereby the appointment has to be ended.
Yes. Details of the claimable expenses and fees can be found in the Scheme of Allowances within the Governance Framework here.