Application for Financial Assistance for legal representation

Reference code: 
PCD 146
Date signed: 
15 February 2017
Authorisation name: 
Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor, Policing and Crime

Executive summary

The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC) is asked to consider an application for financial assistance of £22,320.00 (incl. VAT) for a former member of police staff in respect of separate representation in a forthcoming inquest.

The DMPC has power to grant the application if she 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 and Consent, to consider the current application for financial assistance.

Recommendation

The DMPC is asked to approve the application for financial assistance made by the Applicant for the sum of £22,320.00 (incl. VAT) for the reasons set out in Part 2.

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

1.    Introduction and background

1.1.    The Inquest proceedings will commence on 20th February 2016, and are scheduled to last for 2 weeks.

1.2.    The factual background giving rise to the proceedings are as follows; On 1st September 2010 a male of no fixed abode was arrested by police for begging. He was taken to Forest Gate Police station and placed in a cell.  He was assessed by a doctor who deemed him fit to be detained. 

1.3.    On 2nd September 2010 the male collapsed in his cell. He was provided with medical assistance but died that day.  A PC performing gaoler duties, Dedicated Detention Officer (DDO) and Custody Nurse Practitioner (CNP) were involved in the emergency life support prior to LAS attendance.

1.4.    There have been 2 IPCC investigations.  The first concerned itself with the male’s detention, and examined whether his collapse could have been avoided.  The second investigation looked at the actions of those involved in his care following the male’s collapse.  

1.5.    The investigations concluded that there was no misconduct for the police officer who was the gaoler.  It did conclude that there was a performance issue, but the PC, who was a probationer at the time, has undertaken regular Emergency Life Support Training as a mandatory part of his role since the incident and the conclusion of the IPCC investigation in 2015.  As such, the IPCC agreed that no further action was required.  A conclusion of Gross Misconduct was made for a DDO and ex-Custody Nurse Practitioner (CNP) in relation to the provision of Emergency Life Support.

1.6.    The CNP left the MPS prior to the 2nd investigation commencing.

1.7.    The ex-CNP was afforded the status of Interested Person by the Coroner.

1.8.    There is a clear conflict of interests between the position of the Commissioner and the Applicant and accordingly the Applicant requires separate legal representation and financial assistance.  This is supported by DLS who confirm that the ex-member of staff acted in good faith and that her actions were reasonable

2.    Issues for consideration

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

2.2.    The DMPC has power to grant the application if she 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.  

3.    Financial Comments

3.1.    The solicitors acting for the police staff member have submitted an estimate of the total costs of the separate representation in support of the application for financial assistance in the sum of £22320.00 (incl. VAT).

3.2.    The costs will be met from the 1996 Police Act Expenditure budget held within DLS.  

4.    Legal Comments

4.1.    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 the maintenance of an efficient and effective police force, R -v- DPP ex parte Duckenfield (2000) 1 WLR 55.  The Deputy Mayor has delegated authority, under para. 2.20 of the Scheme of Delegation, to consider the current application for financial assistance.

4.2.    A conflict of interests arises between the Commissioner and Applicant which gives rise to the need for separate representation and financial assistance for the reasons set out above.  

4.3.    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”.   

5.    Equality Comments

5.1.    There will be media and family/community interest in this case 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. 

6.    Background/supporting papers

6.1.    Exempt MPS ‘report on application for financial assistance