Application for financial assistance

Reference code: 
DMPCD 2016 57
Date signed: 
17 March 2016
Authorisation name: 
Stephen Greenhalgh (past staff), Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime

Executive summary

The Directorate of Professional Standards is requesting that the Deputy Mayor of Policing and Crime consider an application for financial assistance for a former police officer in the sum of £307.919 (inclusive of VAT for separate representation In criminal proceedings.

The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (the 'DMPC') has power to grant the application if he is satisfied that funding the Applicant's legal expenses in the proceedings is likely to secure an efficient and effective police force. The DMPC has delegated authority, under 4.10 of the MOPAC Scheme of Delegation, to consider the current application for financial assistance.

Recommendation

The DMPC is asked to approve the application of financial assistance made by the Applicant for the sum of £307.919 for the reasons set out in the Exempt Report

Non-confidential facts and advice to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC)

Introduction and background

The Exempt Report is exempt because it falls within an exemption specified in para 2(2) of the Elected Local Policing Bodies (Specified Information) Order 2011, the Data Protection Act 1998 and/or the Freedom of Information Act 2000 e.g. because the information amounts to personal data, is confidential or commercially sensitive.

The criminal proceedings are concluded. The factual background giving rise to the criminal trial and this application is set out in the exempt report.

The Applicant represents that he satisfies the criteria for entitlement to financial assistance for the following reasons; (1) he was performing his official duty as a police officer; (2) he was acting in good faith; (3) there was no neglect or willful default on his part; and (4) he exercised reasonable judgement. The facts provided by the applicant in support of their representation for financial assistance are set out in the exempt report.

The Commissioners position in relation to the Applicant's representations for financial assistance is set out in the exempt report.

Issues for consideration

For the DMPC to consider whether there was a conflict of interest requiring separate representation and financial assistance and whether the financial assistance will secure an efficient and effective force.

The DMPC has power to grant the application if he is satisfied that funding the Applicant's legal expenses in the proceedings is likely to secure the maintenance of an efficient and effective police force.

Financial Comments

The Police Federation, acting for the police officer, has submitted a final invoice of the costs of the separate representation in support of this application for financial assistance. The Police Federation has agreed to meet 10% of the full cost (£342.132.37) of defending the criminal trial.

The costs will be met from the 1996 Police Act Expenditure budget held within  DLS. However should this budget over spend, any over spends in this financial year will be met from the overall  DLS revenue budget.

Legal Comments

The DMPC has discretion under Section 3(6) and para. 7 of Schedule 3 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to fund police officers' legal expenses in proceedings if they consider that providing the funding secures an efficient and effective police force, (see also R -v- DPP ex parte Duckenfield (2000) 1 WLR 55). The DMPC has delegated authority under para. 2.20 of the MOPAC Scheme of Delegation, to consider the current application for financial assistance.

A conflict of interests arose between the Commissioner and the Police Officer/Staff which gave rise to the need for separate representation and financial assistance for the reasons set out above.

Home Office Circular 43/2001 provides guidance which applies to MOPAC.  Para. 12 states "'police officers must be confident that Police Authorities (now Police and Crime Commissioners) will provide financial support for officers in legal proceedings where they have acted in good faith and have  exercised their judgement reasonably . Police Authorities will need to decide each case on its merits, but subject to that, there should be a strong presumption  in favour of payment where these criteria are met"'.

Home Office Circular 43/2001 outlines the Home Secretary's approval of guidance to Police and Crime Commissioners on financial assistance to officers in legal proceedings in the light of the Divisional Court judgment of R v South Yorkshire Police Authority (1999). This judgement confirmed that Police and Crime Commissioners have power to meet the defence costs of Police Officers in civil and criminal proceedings, including judicial review proceedings and any other type of legal proceedings.  This includes financial assistance to police officers in defending criminal prosecutions initiated by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Equality Comments

There was significant media and family/community interest in this criminal trial and the MPS cannot discount the inferences and potential for disquiet and distrust that can be brought about by any related activity such as stated above. Unless the community concerns associated with this case are managed effectively there is the potential for the family/community to distrust the police.  To continue policing with the consent of the population it serves, the police will always seek to be open and transparent in the decisions we make.