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Police Reform Act 2002

Section 33: Removal of senior officers at the instance of the Secretary of State

177.This section sets out revised powers for intervention by the Secretary of State. He will be able to require a police authority to call on the chief constable of a force outside London or the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to retire or resign in the interests of efficiency or effectiveness. He will also be able to require suspension of officers in certain circumstances. The section introduces further safeguards regarding the use of the removal powers and also streamlines the process where the removal of a senior officer is initiated under these powers.

178.Subsection (2) contains the intervention powers. These are introduced by the insertion of a series of new subsections in section 42 of the 1996 Act. New section 42(1) allows the Secretary of State to require a police authority to call on a senior police officer to retire or resign in the interests of efficiency or effectiveness. New section 42(1A) allows the Secretary of State to require suspension of those officers in certain circumstances set out in new section 42(1B). New section 42(2) introduces the further safeguards. It makes it a requirement for the Secretary of State to give an officer formal written notice of his intention to exercise the section 42(1) power to require the police authority concerned to take action against the officer, explaining the grounds for so doing. The purpose is to ensure that the officer is made directly aware of the Secretary of State’s intention and the reasons behind it. This is in addition to the requirement for an officer to be able to make representations to the Secretary of State, which this subsection re-enacts. Section 42(2B) requires the Secretary of State to consider any representations made to him by the officer concerned. Section 42(2A) ensures that the relevant police authority is also kept informed of the Secretary of State’s actions. If the Secretary of State intends to exercise his powers under this section, he will be required, as now, to appoint an inquiry to report to him on the proposal. The officer and police authority concerned are entitled to make representations to this inquiry – the officer being explicitly allowed to do so in person (revised section 42(3), and new sections 42(3A) and 42(3B)).

179.Subsection (6) effects the removal of unnecessary stages in two ways. Firstly, it removes the requirement for a police authority, which has been required by the Secretary of State under section 42 to take action against an officer, subsequently to seek the Secretary of State’s approval – which would be axiomatic. Secondly, following exercise by the Secretary of State of his section 42 power, the subsequent consideration by him of representations by the officer concerned and the holding of an inquiry, there is currently a duplicating requirement for the police authority also to hear representations: this duplication is removed. Similarly, this subsection ensures that in these circumstances there is no duplication by the police authority of the new requirement for the Secretary of State to provide a written explanation of his grounds for calling upon the officer to retire or resign. The changes are made by the insertion of new subsection (4A) in section 42 of the 1996 Act.

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