Serving professional journalism since 1912

Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Senior police officers call for more secrecy

In a move widely condemned as hypocritical by journalists and by victims of false accusations, the Chief Constables’ Council is demanding that official complaints about the conduct and behaviour of senior police officers should be kept secret.

A report by journalists at The Mail on Sunday has revealed that at a meeting between the Chief Constables’ Council and the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the CCC said it was “damaging” for accusations against senior policemen to be made public. Currently, when investigations into the highest-ranking officers are launched by police forces or the IPCC, the identities of those facing disciplinary action can be revealed. But the Chiefs want the names of those being investigated to be kept out of the public domain unless they are found guilty. It could mean details of the claims against them remain secret for several years – or even concealed for ever if the charges are not proven.

The IPCC is currently investigating eight top-ranking officers, from six forces across England and Wales, and according to The MoS a further six more chief constables, assistant chief constables and deputy chief constables are having their conduct scrutinised by external police forces.

The CCC argues that “Press releases can be damaging… as the media will run with big stories. It may then transpire that there is no case to answer.”

No such protection is being advocated by the CCC for those outside the police service who are being investigated on what subsequently turn out to have been false accusations. Indeed, many lives have been ruined because the police have press-released their investigations.