§ Mr. Waterson
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on his proposals for the reform of police discipline procedures in Northern Ireland.
§ Sir Patrick Mayhew
I issued a consultation paper on police discipline procedures on 26 August 1993. The consultation paper proposed a new system for dealing with unsatisfactory performance, as well as suggesting improvements to existing disciplinary procedures. I have carefully considered the responses which I received, the majority of which were supportive of the reforms.
The changes which I have decided to make will create a more streamlined and up-to-date system for dealing with unsatisfactory performance and instances of misconduct. The reforms will take the form of new regulation-making powers on the conduct, efficiency and effectiveness of police officers and the maintenance of discipline, and will not prevent the pursuit of disciplinary action, when appropriate, if an officer has been acquitted of a criminal charge. There will be a new appeals tribunal, to replace the right of appeal to the Secretary of State. The right of officers to be legally represented when facing the most severe penalties will continue. Consistency will be maintained with Great Britain on the standards of proof for police disciplinary breaches.
These changes will establish a flexible framework for reform in this important area and maintain consistency across the United Kingdom.