Thursday 27 July 2017

Female chief constable cleared of misconduct told to apologise for being rude to staff

Northumbria Police Chief Constable Sue Sim Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Northumbria Police Chief Constable Sue Sim Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Tom Wilkinson

A chief constable has been cleared of misconduct but told to apologise to two officers after complaints were made about her being rude to staff.

Sue Sim, who is retiring as head of Northumbria Police, was investigated by the judge Recorder Joel Bennathan QC and following a six-week inquiry he found she had no case to answer for breaching police standards.

But had she not been retiring, she would have been required to undergo retraining for her management style.

Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird has written to Mrs Sim, directing her to apologise to two officers before she leaves the force next month, after 30 years police service.

Ms Baird said: "Had she not been retiring I would, despite the clear finding that there is no breach of standards, have required her to undertake some fresh management training to significantly moderate her management style which is what has given rise to these complaints.

"It is a long-standing style of working which may have been typical in policing some time ago but would have had to change if Mrs Sim had stayed on."

A group of senior officers complained to the PCC, and it was alleged the chief breached a standard on authority, respect and courtesy, which require that officers act with self-control and tolerance.

Mr Bennathan considered statements and heard oral evidence both from complainants and from Mrs Sim.

Ms Baird said: "I am grateful to Mr Bennathan for the thoroughness and speed of his investigation and to the complainants and the chief constable all of whom entered fully into this process.

"It was in the interests of the public of Northumbria and their high-performing police force to have these complaints investigated, as soon as they were raised, by an independent judicial figure to whom all officers could speak openly and confidentially.

"I am grateful for the support I have had in adopting this process from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and from the IPCC commissioner with responsibility for the North East for confirmation he found it appropriate.

"We are in the process of recruiting a new chief constable who will build new relationships with officers and I look forward to working with him or her to take forward Northumbria Police, a force of which I am proud to be commissioner."

Mrs Sim said she was pleased to have been cleared.

The chief constable said: "I have always accepted that there have been times when I have raised my voice.

 

"This has always been about work-related issues and, as a result of the significant challenges we faced, my frustration at the speed of progress.

 

"It was never my intention to cause any upset and, if I did, then obviously I apologise wholeheartedly.

 

"I have always supported my officers fully whenever they have faced work related or personal difficulties.

 

"Of course I am saddened that some senior members of the organisation chose to act in this manner and I have also raised my concerns with the Police and Crime Commissioner in respect of the motivations and intent of some of those involved in making complaints against me.

 

"I have received tremendous support from the majority of my officers and staff during this difficult time and I would like to publicly thank them.

 

"I also want to thank partner agencies and members of the public who have provided messages of support throughout this process.

 

"My motivation has always been to provide the best service we can for local people and I have been immensely proud and honoured to lead Northumbria Police as chief constable and to serve the communities here."

 

Ms Sim came to national prominence in 2010 during the manhunt for gunman Raoul Moat, who went on the run after murdering his love rival Chris Brown and blasting Pc David Rathband, who was unarmed at the time.

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