Hundreds of police officers resigning on the quiet despite admitting serious offences

By Chris Greenwood
Last updated at 9:54 PM on 31st October 2011

Hundreds of police officers accused of misconduct and incompetence have escaped punishment by resigning.

Almost 500 were allowed to quit with clean records and valuable pension benefits over two years.

Critics said the little-known practice is allowing officers facing disciplinary proceedings to leave by the back door, and threatens to damage confidence in the police.

They claim that victims of crime who have been failed by blundering officers are denied the opportunity to see them face justice.

But senior officials defended the system, saying it actually saves the public money by allowing officers to leave without spending long periods suspended on full pay.

At least 489 officers across Britain facing disciplinary panels were allowed to resign or retire over two years, an investigation discovered.

Freedom of Information requests made by the BBC’s Panorama programme found that 1,915 officers were found guilty of misconduct during the same period.

Of these, 382 were sacked or told to resign for reasons ranging from neglect of duty to improperly accessing information or criminal convictions.

Earlier this year Scotland Yard’s director of human resources retired with a £180,000 pay-off despite facing ‘highly sensitive’ allegations by a woman colleague.

Last year a married South Wales police officer quit after being caught using police computers to check on his secret gay lovers.

In Lancashire a civilian worker arrested over claims he racially harassed someone online resigned before an internal hearing.

While in the West Midlands, an officer resigned before he could face a disciplinary panel over claims he attacked a van driver in a road rage attack.

Solicitor Jocelyn Cockburn, who specialises in cases involving complaints against police, warned of the risks of letting officers leave through the ‘back door’.

She said: ‘If they are allowed to leave the police without any stain on their character then there is the chance they will go and work in another force, and that does happen.’

British Transport Police Chief Constable Andy Trotter said: ‘With many offences, like drink driving for example, the officer will be sacked so it is better for them to resign straight away.

‘We do not want bad cops, we do not want useless cops. We are the ones who hunt them down and throw them out because we are passionate about what we do.

‘If you look at the numbers who are resigning and at other organisations you will find no-one has got a rigorous disciplinary process as the police have.

‘This is a tough process and we do not want them in, we want them out and we are very conscious we are using public money.’

Northamptonshire Chief Constable Adrian Lee, who has national responsibility for police ethics, said the disciplinary process can take a ‘huge amount of time’.

He said: ‘What is on offer is this person may be prepared to resign and should you spend public money paying a salary for six months or a year when you have got that offer.

‘I think the right thing to do sometimes is take the resignation but if the public want a misconduct hearing then that can be the case.’

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