From today police forces are required to make their disciplinary hearings open to the public, following a campaign backed by a trade body representing the regional press.
New Home Office rules mean hearings must be held in public in cases where officers or special constables are accused of gross misconduct or breaching professional standards while already on a final warning.
Fast-tracked “special case hearings” where a force considers there to be sufficient evidential and public interest grounds for an officer to leave are also covered by the new rules, as are appeals brough before the Police Appeals Tribunal.
The drive was backed by the News Media Association, which previously said allegations of police misconduct were “not merely a managerial matter which should be shielded from public view”.
However, the new rules allow the chair of the disciplinary panel to exclude anyone they see fit from the hearing.
There is also no duty on the police force to notify the public where and when a hearing will take place and who it concerns.
This will be at the discretion of the chair of the hearing, who, from 2016, will have to be legally qualified.
Any interested party can write to the chair ahead of the hearing requesting that notification not be given or that it is held in private.