Anger over decision to hold Cleveland Police chief constable inquiry in private (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Anger over decision to hold Cleveland Police chief constable inquiry in private
THE first hearing into the conduct of a police chief constable is to be held in private next month, it has been announced.
A two-week hearing into allegations that Cleveland Police Chief Constable Sean Price used undue influence to appoint an individual to the force will be held at an undisclosed venue.
The decision not to hold the non-criminal internal hearing in public has been criticised by Sultan Alam, who spent 17 years clearing his name after being maliciously prosecuted by former Cleveland Police colleagues.
Mr Alam, who is standing for the newly-created role of Police and Crime Commissioner of Cleveland Police, added that he felt the hearing should not be held by Cleveland Police Authority (CPA) at all.
Mr Alam also argued that Operation Sacristy, a separate, criminal investigation being conducted by Warwickshire Police, should be finished first so no criticisms could be levelled at a CPA hearing.
He said: “I do not mean any disrespect to the police authority. It’s just that CPA holding this hearing may lead to criticism, right or wrong.
“Wherever it is held, it should be in an open justice system, certainly open to the press, so evidence can be heard and justice be seen to be done.”
Stuart Drummond, the chairman of CPA, said: “This is a legal process and we have followed that process to the letter.”
The decision not to hold the hearing in public was taken by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which conducted the internal investigation and handed the findings on to CPA.
In a statement, IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said, in principle, the hearing should be heard in public.
However, he said: “It must be noted the process for directing a hearing in public requires extensive consultation which can be time-consuming.
“I was mindful of, among other factors, the impending changes to disciplinary processes with the election of police and crime commissioners in November and the impact that may have on the process, the welfare of witnesses and the chief constable himself, the potential impact on public confidence of a delay of several months and the additional cost of holding a hearing in public.”
The hearing will start on Wednesday, September 26.
Further misconduct hearings against Mr Price will be held at future dates. Mr Price must retire in April and any internal police procedures involving him will end at that date.
Operation Sacristy is an investigation into a number of people with current or past associations with CPA and the manner in which it may have conducted some of its business.
Mr Price remains on police bail pending further inquiries and is suspended from duty.