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Media Release - PC James PatrickFollowing the Mail on Sunday article (11th of February 2013), which discussed the use of social media by police officers, it is timely and necessary to provide some clarification and an update, concerning our client PC James Patrick.
PC Patrick was interviewed on Tuesday 29th January 2013, by representatives on the Directorate of Professional Standards of the Metropolitan Police Service, in respect of allegations of gross misconduct relating to his charity book, The Rest Is Silence.
The conduct allegations centre around declaration of business interest procedures and claim that the content of the book, in which he asks questions about the reform methodology and raises concerns over the manipulation of police statistics, may damage public confidence in the police. The use of Social Media does not feature in the investigation.
Under the provisions of the Metropolitan Police Service policy, relating to business interests, no declaration is required if the activity is voluntary or generates no profit for the officer.
Irrespective of there having been no necessity to declare the book, under the business interest procedure, PC Patrick did so regardless and the registration was being processed when, over a month afterwards, he was notified of the investigation by the Directorate of Professional Standards. At no point was he notified of any additional requirements or additional steps to take. PC Patrick would clearly have complied with any requests or lawful orders had they been made.
By the time the investigation was officially launched and he was served with comprehensive restrictions, his declaration and a full copy of the manuscript had already been with either line managers, Professional Standards or HR Business Interest personnel for over one month. We have been made aware that other persons, yet to be identified, had seen the book in the intervening period but again, no further requirements were made. The Metropolitan Police Service have now released a new Business Interest Policy.
The only tangible way in which any effect on public confidence can be measured, is by seeing what is written about the book by the public. Across the Lulu and Kindle websites, where the book is published, it has received a warm reception and Kaim Todner have received a number of supportive and complimentary messages for PC Patrick.
PC Patrick has always believed that a number of questions arise from this case: about the freedom of expression of those within policing and also whether the current mechanisms for raising legitimate concerns are sufficient, effective and whether the response to this is balanced. He has not yet had chance to fully digest the new ACPO guidelines on social media but his concerns are amplified.
A decision as to whether the Metropolitan Police Service will continue with gross misconduct proceedings against PC Patrick is expected by the end of February.
20 February 2013
Areas of Law