First Merseyside Police disciplinary hearing held in public starts today
I read an interesting article in the Liverpool Echo this morning. The article refers to a police disciplinary hearing for four police officers that’s being held in public (starting today) for four days. By the time this blog post is published the hearing will have started.
This is the first one held in Merseyside since the Home Secretary changed the regulations earlier this year that govern police disciplinary hearings so that they’re in public and not in private.
As mentioned in the Liverpool Echo article, there’s a notice linked from this page on Merseyside Police’s website detailing the hearing information for the four-day hearing starting on 21st September 2015. That last link links to a copy of the three page notice on this blog in case Merseyside Police remove it from their website after the hearing has finished.
The government press release about the changes to the regulations issued about six weeks before the 2015 General Election can be read here.
However there were some parts of the Merseyside Police notice about the hearing that I wanted to quote. These are matters not referred to in the Liverpool Echo article.
Pages one to two of the notice about the hearing deal with the reasons why it is being held, but it is last bit that is interesting (which I will quote in full here, then comment on).
Professional.Standards.Department.PSD@merseyside.pnn.police.uk, with the following details: Name, Date of birth, Address, Email address, Phone number.
When attending a hearing you will be expected to produce photographic ID. These measures are in place to ensure compliance with Health & Safety legislation and security protocols. You are expected to arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of proceedings to enable staff to complete the administrative process and guide you to the seating area.
No recording or filming of these proceedings is allowed and attendees may be searched prior to entry.
Please note there are no parking or refreshment facilities available at the venue.
The premises are wheelchair accessible and a member of Merseyside Police staff will facilitate the signing in process.
This is a ‘No Smoking Building’.
No food or pets are allowed in the building, other than guide dogs.
So in other words, Merseyside Police want to know exactly who is at the hearing (held in public for the first time) and not only that but they want the dates of birth, address, email address and phone number of everyone from the press and public there.
They expect anyone from the press to show photo ID (not hard for the press as the press will have press cards or photo ID from their employer) but also the public too!
Merseyside Police don’t want any recording or filming of the hearing (presumably this won’t stop people sending tweets about the hearing from their mobile phones during the hearing) and to possibly search people attending.
There won’t be "refreshment facilities" (presumably that means no tea/coffee machine) and for a four-day hearing you’re not even allowed to bring a packed lunch.
Plus they want you to email in advance to say you’re coming!
For a public hearing (or to paraphrase what some councillors would say not a "public hearing" but a "hearing held in public") Merseyside Police would seem to be trying to deter people from going and to gather intelligence on the press and public attending.
Sadly, however interesting it sounds, with Wavertree being a ten-mile trip there and ten miles back from the Wirral we can’t spare someone for the four days of the hearing. I do hope the newspapers send someone though, so there is some record of what happens in this new age of openness and transparency.
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