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Police Reform Act 2002

Part 3: Removal, suspension and disciplining of police officers

23.Circumstances in which the removal of a chief officer is required are likely to be rare. Nonetheless, it is thought to be prudent to ensure that adequate arrangements are in place to cover this eventuality. Consequently, the Act adds to the circumstances in which senior officers can be required to retire or resign and introduces a new power of suspension from duty. It also streamlines the process surrounding the early departure of chief officers.

24.This Part of the Act also contains measures regarding the conduct of disciplinary proceedings for all officers, which are tied into the provisions of Part 2 of the Act on complaints and misconduct. One element of this, regulations enabling a change in police conduct procedures to allow inferences to be drawn from failure to mention a fact when questioned or charged, as is the case in criminal proceedings as a result of provision made under section 34 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, was recommended by the Home Affairs Committee in December 1997 (First Report from the Home Affairs Committee Session 1997-98: Police Disciplinary and Complaints Procedure (HC 258) – accessible via The Committee felt it would go some way towards addressing concerns over the use of ‘no comment’ in interviews in police discipline investigations. The Secretary of State accepted their recommendation to end the ‘right to silence’ in discipline proceedings and announced it in the House of Commons on 23 March 1998 (Official Report, volume 309, column 22).

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