Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner has decided to suspend Mr Hyde who is currently the Temporary Chief Constable for Cumbria, under section 38 (2) of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (PRSRA).
The Commissioner has started to commence the procedures under section 38 (3) with a view to calling upon Mr Hyde, as Temporary Chief Constable, to resign or retire.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes said: “After careful consideration I am proposing to start the process to ask Temporary Chief Constable Hyde to retire or resign under the section 38 (3) of the PRSRA, in the meantime he has been suspended.
“My reasons for suspending Temporary Chief Constable Hyde and starting this process are as follows:
(a) I am very mindful of my overriding obligation to secure the effective and efficient policing of Cumbria. I am aware that there were genuine and substantiated concerns about Mr Hyde’s ability to deliver operational policing during the eight months when he was Temporary Chief Constable (prior to his suspension).
(b) In my view, and as demonstrated by the concerns raised, there has been a distinct lack of confidence on the part of senior staff within the Constabulary in Mr Hyde’s ability to deliver the requirements of operational policing.
(c) I am concerned by Mr Hyde’s lack of professionalism. Mr Hyde has demonstrated a lack of judgement in his use of his corporate credit card and an apparent failure to adhere to force policies in relation to the proper provision of full receipts and the use of his card for personal or unauthorised expenditure. I have had access to documents which suggest that over a period of each of the four tax years Mr Hyde used his corporate credit card in breach of the Constabulary’s Procedures on more than 50% of the occasions on which he used the credit card. Also that on a number of occasions he used the credit card for personal expenses. Although I understand that, where identified, these were repaid, the absence of VAT receipts in over 50% of claims has impeded further checks. Mr Hyde appears to have used his corporate credit card for expenses whilst in force area, despite this being contrary to the policy and notwithstanding that he would have received an in-force area subsistence allowance, which in 2012/13 amounted to £707.88 per annum.
(d) I consider that Mr Hyde has repeatedly demonstrated very poor judgement for example as indicated by the nature and substance of some of his use of social media. I have seen a number of “tweets” which may have undermined public confidence in the Constabulary, leading the public to believe that the Temporary Chief Constable was undertaking social activities whilst on duty: tweets which may have been unprofessional or offensive in relation to a ‘# tag’ for a music festival; and tweets which appeared to promote local businesses or products. I consider poor judgment has also been revealed by the credit card matters set out above and his use of air miles accrued as a result of a business trip to Bermuda to finance what I am satisfied was a personal trip to Tunisia during annual leave. Also Mr Hyde must have failed to consider or exercised equally poor judgment when he failed to include certain matters which ought to have been recorded in the Register of Gifts and Hospitality.
(e) I bear in mind that one of the first and foremost functions of a Police and Crime Commissioner is to reflect public opinion on all policing matters. I believe that public opinion would reveal a lack of confidence from members of the general public in Mr Hyde’s ability to retain his position as Temporary Chief Constable in light of the concerns which have had to be considered over the last year. I also believe that this view would be upheld by members of the Police and Crime Panel. I as Commissioner together with the police and the public are entitled to expect that police officers will abide by the Standards of Professional Behaviour and that in particular someone holding the position of Temporary Chief Constable could be expected to demonstrate and show leadership and responsibility in matters of integrity, credibility, adherence to policies and proper conduct
(f) Finally I am conscious that Police and Crime Commissioners are currently engaged in a very detailed process known as the ‘Stage 2 Transfer’. This requires detailed discussion and planning with the Constabulary and with the Trade Unions about the future allocation of responsibility for the whole range of policing functions. These proposals have to be ready to be submitted to Parliament by January 2014 and it is my view that continuity in the senior management of the constabulary during this period is absolutely essential. According to the information I have seen, before he was suspended, Mr Hyde was absent from the force for 22% of his working days including trips to Amsterdam, Romania and Washington DC. That this happened at a time of radical reorganisation appears to demonstrate a lack of focus on strategic priorities for Cumbria. In addition Mr Hyde has now been absent for 11 months. I am concerned when considering how to ensure the delivery of effective and efficient policing that Mr Hyde could not now contribute to this important process and that I should take the appropriate steps to ensure the stability of the senior leadership of the Constabulary.
“In accordance with regulations I have started the process by requesting the written views of the Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) and written to the Police and Crime Panel.
“Mr Hyde’s appointment as Temporary Chief Constable ends on 30th August and after that date he reverts to Deputy Chief Constable at which point I no longer have jurisdiction to consider the matter.”
Response of Temporary Chief Constable Stuart Hyde to the findings of the Investigation into his actions, his subsequent suspension, the conclusion of the suspension and recommendations, including subsequent decisions and actions by the PCC
- Mr Hyde is pleased the Report concluded there was no evidence of Misconduct
- Mr Hyde is surprised at the the investigation is being used now to try and remove him from office
- Mr Hyde has an alternative narrative of the Report to that proposed by the PCC
- Mr Hyde is willing to mediate and seek a mutually acceptable solution
1. Today you have had a briefing by the PCC about the investigation into allegations made against me, and my subsequent suspension. It should not come as a surprise that I do not agree with all of what has been said, and that I have a right to make the other side of this inquiry public. In any investigation or inquiry there will always be different perceptions of what occurred and the purpose should be to identify the truth. I believe that there is a different perspective than that offered by the PCC. This briefing is the start of that perspective.
2. My perceptions of what has been alleged, and what has occurred since, are clearly at odds with that of the PCC. Differences of perception do not preclude, or prevent, any willingness on my behalf to meet and discuss with him or his representatives a solution to this inquiry, which I believe would be the right thing to do. Any future mediation will be in the best interests of the Constabulary and more importantly the people of Cumbria, and will allow me to continue to make a contribution to society as I have done for 30 years.
3. Having received a series of documents late Friday night, despite attempts to resolve the situation, I am very surprised and shocked by the current position I find myself in. For the benefit of myself, my family, and all those who have supported me through this crisis over the past 12 months I believe it is right that I should have an opportunity to put a different perspective than that you have heard earlier.
4. Whilst I await details of the process as outlined by the PCC, at this stage, on legal advice, I will not be making specific responses to each of the recommendations.
5. What is really important is that after a year-long inquiry the investigation, conducted under the leadership of Peter Vaughan Chief Constable of South Wales Police, into my role as Temporary Chief Constable has found no evidence of misconduct, gross misconduct or criminality. What I am surprised and shocked about is that the PCC has not accepted their conclusion and has chosen to substitute his own despite a clear statement that there is no evidence of misconduct.
6. Throughout this difficult time I have refrained from making statements that could compromise an independent investigation, and I believe I have conducted myself with extreme patience and dignity. I understand this has been recognised by the Investigation team and my support and cooperation has been very much noted and welcomed. I have accepted right from the time I was suspended that I would benefit and learn from any misunderstandings or errors on my part. I have not tried to shift any blame or responsibility on others in order to protect my own reputation..
7. Throughout I have maintained that I am not guilty of any serious wrongdoing and the extensive investigation conducted by an experienced Chief Constable supported by a team of specialist investigators has concluded that I was not in fact guilty of any misconduct at all. They have recommended that I receive Management Advice in a number of areas, the lowest level of resolution.
8. I am pleased that clarity is to be provided for a number of previously unclear policies managed by the Police Authority and now OPCC. As identified by the IPCC many of the allegations about me arose from rumour and innuendo and have not been substantiated.
9. It has come as a shock to me, and I am very surprised by the fact that, as a result of the investigation findings, the PCC has lifted my suspension and then immediately re-suspended me and he is attempting to remove me from office under the same facts, which the investigation clearly stated found no evidence of misconduct. I will have to challenge this process in the light of the investigation, as I and my legal team consider it to be disproportionate and not in the best interests of Cumbria Constabulary I believe the process is unfair.
10. I thoroughly disagree with the decision to use s38 process at a time when it cannot be completed, and responsibility will have to pass to another to manage the outcome.
11. I remain absolutely clear that I still wish to serve the people of Cumbria to the best of my ability. If I considered that the evidence found in the investigation justified the view that I was no longer fit to be a senior police officer I would have retired immediately. I do not believe that view is representative of the findings. I am determined to bring these matters to a conclusion and remain willing –as I have previously suggested to the PCC – to undertake mediation
12. This investigation has focused on a small proportion of my contribution towards policing, not just within Cumbria, but nationally.
13. I would like to make a few points in relation to the information put into the public domain by the PCC:
a. During my 11 month suspension I have repeatedly asked to be allowed to return to work in some capacity, including working outside the force on national projects if necessary. I felt this would at least give the public some return for my salary.
b. I remain committed to visible engaged community policing. I firmly believe supporting local, national and international charity events and highlighting issues of local Cumbria interest to the wider world is good to demonstrate that policing is about the community and the people who live within it.
c. My charity work reflects my commitment to the communities of Cumbria. I have been happy to give up my own time for this purpose and have appropriately capitalised on my position as a chief constable to promote charitable causes such as Mountain Rescue and the Blue Lamp Foundation charities.
d. Social Media is used increasingly by the police globally to engage with our public. Much has been said nationally and internationally about the value of this engagement in increasing public confidence and preventing crime. I strongly believe that effective engagement depends on the police willingness to learn new techniques which social media provides. Tweeting chief constables are now the norm. I am proud to have been in the first wave.
e. Working away from force is a feature of most dedicated chief constables work patterns necessary to fulfil our national responsibilities as set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement. In reality this means working long hours in the evenings and weekends to catch up with developments in force but it comes with the job. All of my foreign work-related travel has been authorised and for a proper policing purpose.
f. In relation to my use of credit cards I need to amplify the fact set out in the report that I have always promptly reimbursed every penny if I have used the card for a non-policing purpose. There has been no personal gain here.
g. I am pleased that the investigation team found there to be no evidence of misconduct for my business contacts or contacts with those who express political affiliation. I have always conducted myself fairly and properly in such matters. I fully appreciate this is essential to preserve the integrity of the police service. I fully support the recommendations to improve transparency in this respect.
14. I believe that it remains a terrible waste of public money to keep me away from work after the investigation has found no evidence of any misconduct.
15. In closing I would like to reiterate that the Investigation, lasting the best part of a year, with a team of specialised investigators has found no evidence of Misconduct on my part. I would speculate that many of the allegations still fulfil the description from the IPCC as “unsubstantiated rumour” or referred to investigation without any prior research or evidence.
16. I remain very surprised why the findings and recommendations have led the PCC to pursue my early retirement under s38. I feel that it is right that I offer publicly some explanation at this stage but I think it is also right that I confine myself to those issues currently in the public domain as I have done so for the last year alongside my legal advice. I believe there is a different perspective to that outlined by the PCC and that it is right for me to propose it.
17. I remain open to any form of mediation with the PCC or Mr Lawson to bring this to an end but I think it is right that having served for nearly 30 years unblemished service that I defend myself against what I consider to be an unfair and unnecessary process. In the light of the findings of the investigation of no evidence of misconduct I and my legal team consider it disproportionate to remove me from office and not in the best interests of Cumbria Constabulary. This is not a situation I wanted to find myself in
18. I await contact with Temporary Chief Constable Bernard Lawson and discussing with him how this whole process will progress. I do hope that for the benefit of all parties that we can arrive at a suitable solution quickly.
19. Finally this has been an enormous strain on me and my family and I would like to thank them and my friends and colleagues for the support I have had over the last 12 months.
Commenting on the news that Stuart Hyde, Cumbria’s temporary Chief Constable, is to be asked to resign or retire by the county’s police commissioner, local MP Tim Farron has said:
“I want to hear concrete reassurances from the Commissioner that all the necessary legal procedures have been followed to the letter. I also want him to agree to show all the evidence to the independent scrutiny panel to allow them to make a judgement. The public do not know the full extent of the situation and they deserve to know what has happened.
“Whatever happens next it must be done swiftly for the sake of taxpayers in Cumbria and it must be done properly to ensure there are no court cases later that could cost further valuable public money.”
Update on the Conduct investigation and suspension of Temporary Chief Constable Stuart Hyde
In accordance with Police Regulations, Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes has reviewed the investigation report from South Wales Police and made a decision as to whether Temporary Chief Constable Stuart Hyde has a case to answer in relation to misconduct or gross misconduct.
South Wales Police completed their report and presented the Commissioner with comprehensive and lengthy findings including 36 recommendations. The Commissioner formally sought provision of some of the underlying evidence, obtained legal advice and has been considering the facts in order to make a decision in accordance with police conduct legislation.
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes said: “It is extremely disappointing the length of time and cost of the investigation process which has taken place into a number of allegations against Temporary Chief Constable Stuart Hyde.
“When I was elected on 16 November 2012, I inherited the suspension of Temporary Chief Constable Stuart Hyde from the outgoing Police Authority.
“The Police Authority had already made the decision to suspend Temporary Chief Constable Stuart Hyde and had commissioned South Wales Police to investigate following a referral back from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
“Following my election I took the view that as the investigation was underway it should continue as planned.
“In April 2013, at the request of the Senior Investigating Officer a new matter was included in the investigation and South Wales Police had to be allowed the time to investigate this fully.
“In July, I was presented by South Wales Police with an investigation report. I have studied the report and reviewed some of the underlying evidence. The investigating officer’s report concludes that he did not find evidence of misconduct but does included 36 recommendations, twelve recommendations relate directly to Mr Hyde and the remaining twenty-three to the Constabulary and one for the OPCC for improvements to policies and procedures and the way they are monitored.
“The report from South Wales Police shows that Temporary Chief Constable Stuart Hyde conducted himself below the standards of professional behaviour and public expectations. It is expected that police officers act with the utmost integrity and professionalism, this is even more imperative for the rank of Chief Constable.
“The South Wales Police report shows evidence that Mr Hyde has breached Cumbria Constabulary’s Corporate Card Procedures on more than 50% of the occasions when he used the card over each of the last four years by not providing proper receipts and on occasion purchasing personal items although where identified these have been reimbursed.
“The report also finds that Mr Hyde used his corporate credit card for expenses whilst in the force area (Cumbria) despite being contrary to the policy and not withstanding that he was in receipt of an in-force subsistence allowance of £700 per year.
“The report from South Wales Police highlights that Mr Hyde has breached the “Anti-Fraud and Corruption Procedure” in relation to completion of the Register of Gifts and Hospitality as well as the “Online Code of Conduct for Officers and Staff” through Mr Hyde’s use of social media. There was underlying evidence that some tweets could be considered unprofessional or offensive and /or which might be deemed to be discreditable conduct.
“The report also highlights that Mr Hyde during the period from January to September 2012 spent nearly a quarter of his working time out of the County and undertook numerous overseas trips. I will be reviewing the process for overseas travel immediately for the role of Chief Constable and ensuring that the Chief Constable implements the same policy for the Constabulary. I am of the view that overseas travel should only be in exceptional circumstances.
“Under legal guidance given the way that misconduct is defined in the regulations, I have concluded that there is a case to answer for misconduct. However, I am disappointed that any action taken by me would have delayed a resolution and incurred further cost that I can’t feel is in the public interest. On balance I did not consider the case was one of a case to answer for gross misconduct, which is misconduct that justifies dismissal. Having not referred the case to a misconduct meeting I was advised that the suspension would come to an immediate end under the regulations.
“I will be writing to the Policing Minister Damian Green outlining my concerns that the existing conduct process for Senior Officers is too lengthy and costly. I will be making recommendations to improve the process.
“There are significant lessons that need to be learnt from the last 12 months. I will be drawing up a joint action plan with the Constabulary starting with the recommendations from the South Wales Police report that focuses on the correct governance, robust policies and sufficient monitoring of compliance with policies. Progress will be monitored through the public monthly Executive Board meetings.”