Posted on 12th March 2019

Counsel at No5 Barristers’ Chambers has successfully argued for a former police officer to be reinstated on an appeal against her dismissal at a Fast Track (Special Case) Hearing, following her conviction for driving with excess alcohol.

Colin Banham successfully represented the officer at the Police Appeals’ Tribunal. The officer was also assisted by Keith Jervis, from Staffordshire Police Federation.

On the 9th of August 2018, the officer pleaded guilty to a single offence of driving with excess alcohol before Derby Magistrates’ Court. She was disqualified for 12 months, ordered to pay a £492.00 fine, £620.00 in costs and a victim surcharge of £49.00.

At the Fast Track (Special Case) Hearing on the 19th of October 2018, she accepted that her conduct amounted to a Breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour with regard to Discreditable Conduct and that it was so serious as to amount to Gross Misconduct.

Following submissions, Chief Constable Gareth Morgan determined that the officer should be dismissed without notice.

Colin Banham drafted the Grounds of Appeal to the Police Appeals’ Tribunal, arguing that the dismissal was both unreasonable and/or in breach of the procedures set out in the Conduct Regulations … or otherwise materially unfair.

It was submitted that the Chief Constable had taken an unreasonable approach to the material issues in the case and had given insufficient weight to the mitigation presented.

The officer, who was off duty at the time, had been the victim of domestic violence. She had left her isolated home in fear for her personal safety and drove only a short distance away. She contacted the police and, as advised, waited for them to arrive. She was then breathalysed and found to have 59 micrograms in 100ml of breath. The drink drive limit is 35 micrograms in 100ml of breath.

Mr Banham said that the officer had been assaulted more than once in the weeks before the incident. He said the Chief Constable had failed to take the circumstances into account, and this failure in his approach meant that his decision was outside the reasonable range of decisions.

Reference was made to the ‘Guidance on Outcomes in Police Misconduct Proceedings’ issued by the College of Policing, as well as the authorities of R (CC of Cleveland Constabulary) & PAT v Rukin [2017] EWHC 1286 (Admin), Giele v GMC [2005] EWHC 2143 (Admin), Bijl v GMC [2001] UKPC 42 and R (Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis) v PAT (Naulls) [2013] EWHC 1684 (Admin).

The tribunal considered the mitigating factors in this case to be weighty, it accepted that her misconduct was an isolated incident and that she was of previous good character.

Following a one-day hearing, her appeal was allowed. The outcome of dismissal without notice was quashed and substituted with a Final Written Warning. The officer had now been reinstated as a police constable within Staffordshire Constabulary.

The tribunal’s decision does not affect the drink driving conviction which remains.

To read more about the case, visit: https://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/news/stoke-on-trent-news/drink-driving-hanley-police-officer-2590272

Colin Banham is a member of the misconduct group at No5 Barristers’ Chambers. To view his profile, visit: https://www.no5.com/barristers/barrister-details/483-colin-banham/