THE police watchdog has launched an gross misconduct investigation into Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley.
The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner has so far given no indication of what the allegation is about but it is understood to amount to a serious breach of professional standards that if proven could lead to him being fired.
The Scottish Police Authority passed the details onto PIRC after deciding the misconduct allegation should be investigated.
The PIRC said: “Once the investigation is concluded the Commissioner must determine whether, in the investigator’s opinion, the senior officer has a case to answer in relation to the misconduct allegation.
“The Commissioner must submit a report to the SPA containing a summary of the evidence and the investigator’s opinion on whether the allegation should be referred to a misconduct hearing.
“Where the Authority determines that there is a case to answer for either misconduct or gross misconduct, it must refer the misconduct allegation to a misconduct hearing.
“As this is a live investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
Mr Gormley, who was sworn is as the head of Police Scotland just a year-and-a-half ago said: “I can confirm that today I was informed by the PIRC that I am the subject of a conduct investigation.
“I am cooperating fully with the PIRC and will provide all necessary assistance to bring this matter to a timely and satisfactory conclusion. In fairness to others who may be involved, it is not appropriate for me to comment further at this time.”
Mr Gormley who became only the second Chief Constable since the Scottish police forces merged in 2013, added: “I would like to stress that I remain focussed on leading Police Scotland, ensuring that we continue to serve and protect the people of this country.”
The Scottish Police Authority said consideration of complaints and conduct issues “are confidential while being progressed” and the SPA has a police of “not commenting on individual cases”.
It has stressed that while passing the case to PIRC, it does not mean they have investigated and found misconduct “but that in our assessment if proven it would amount to misconduct”.
An SPA spokesman added: “If an allegation relating to the conduct of a senior officer of Assistant Chief Constable rank or above is made, the SPA has the responsibility for receiving and assessing that allegation in line with The Police Service of Scotland (Senior Officers) (Conduct) Regulations 2013.
“If the SPA decides that a misconduct allegation is to be investigated, it must refer the allegation to the independent Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC). “
SPA’s own complaints handling procedures says that if it is assessed that an allegation against a senior officer if proved “would amount to gross misconduct or misconduct and has to be investigated then they must refer the allegation to PIRC for assessment and, potentially, for investigation”.
PIRC, which began the probe after a referral from the Scottish Police Authority, only referred to a “senior officer” in an official statement and would not discuss in general terms what the complaint related to.
But Police Scotland has confirmed that the Chief Constable is the senior officer.
Gross misconduct relates to breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour, as detailed in Schedule 1 of the 2013 Regulations, which is so serious that dismissal may be justified.
These standards cover:
*Honesty and Integrity
*Authority, Respect and Courtesy
*Equality and Diversity
*Use of Force
*Orders and Instructions
*Duties and Responsibilities
*Fitness for Duty
*Discreditable Conduct and Challenging and Reporting Improper Conduct
At the conclusion of a PIRC probe, it will generally recommend to the SPA whether the allegation should be referred to a misconduct hearing.
The SPA must then decide whether the Chief Constable has a case to answer in respect of misconduct, gross misconduct or neither.
Where the authority decides there is no case to answer it may take no action, take improvement action, or refer the matter to be dealt with under procedures maintained under regulation 23 of the Police Service of Scotland (Performance) Regulations 2103.
Where the authority determines that there is a case to answer in respect of either misconduct or gross misconduct, it must refer the misconduct allegation to a misconduct hearing.
Mr Gormley began his policing career 32 years ago as a constable with Thames Valley Police and was promoted to superintendent after 14 years service and ultimately commander with responsibility for the Southern Oxfordshire area.
In 2003, he joined the Metropolitan Police and was appointed Commander of Specialist Operations.
Two years later he organised the merger of the Anti-Terrorist Branch and Special Branch into what would become the Counter Terrorism Command in 2006.
Before moving to Police Scotland, he was Chief Constable fo Norfolk Constabulary for three years where he was the second highest force head in the UK with a salary of £260,000.
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