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."
The overall final cost of the investigation undertaken by South Wales Police has been £11,884.89. These costs relate to accommodation, travel and subsistence incurred by South Wales Police Officers whilst conducting the investigation. South Wales Police have met staffing costs as these costs are not additional costs to the force. Police officers and staff are employed by South Wales Police on a permanent basis and would have been paid their salaries regardless of what investigation they were working on.
There were five Police Officers and two Support Staff members allocated to the investigation however, due to other work commitments and assignments this was not always on a full time basis.
Costs to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner
The Police Authority worked with a national legal firm at the start as it was important to have confidential, consistent and independent legal advice. The total cost of the legal advice to-date is £158,809 which is split £76,566 for 2012/13 and to-date £82,243 for 2013/14.
Costs to Cumbria Constabulary
In accordance with The Police (Conduct) Regulations 2008, Section 10 (2) & (3), an officer who is suspended under this regulation remains a police officer for the purposes of the Regulations; and a suspension under this regulation shall be with pay. We can confirm that Mr Hyde in accordance with Police Regulations has continued to be paid whilst suspended.
The Constabulary occurred an additional staff cost from 13 September 2012 to August 2013 of £189,000 in respect of re-charges from Merseyside Police regarding the secondment of Mr Lawson as Temporary Chief Constable. During this time the Constabulary has held vacant a Chief Officer post at the level of Assistant Chief Constable and this has helped support these costs to the extent that the net additional finance from the PCC has been £47,000.
Executive Summary of the Investigation into TCC Mr Stuart Hyde can be viewed here