Legally Qualified Chairs
The Police and Crime Commissioner has a statutory duty under the police complaints system to maintain a list of Legally Qualified Chairs (LQCs) who are available to chair police Misconduct Hearings and to nominate a chair to sit on each panel.
Police Misconduct Panels are responsible for determining the outcome of a serious misconduct case after an investigation has taken place and the facts are known. The panel members are a Legally Qualified Chair, an independent lay member and a senior force officer. Independent panel members are also appointed to a panel by the Commissioner’s office.
Legally Qualified Chairs are individuals who remain independent of the police in order to provide fair and impartial oversight of these Hearings.
Most local policing bodies have collectively decided to maintain lists of LQCs by region. LQCs used in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight may also chair police misconduct hearings in Thames Valley, Kent, Sussex and Surrey. The below conditions outline the terms of the selection, recruitment and management of Legally Qualified Chairs.
Our application pack will be available here when recruitment opens in early 2023.
Appointments are made for a duration of four years, prevent over familiarity with police forces or lack of independence of Chairs, and individual LQCs may also sit on lists for more than one policing region. LQCs may appear on any one list for a maximum of eight years (two terms) and wait an additional four years to re-apply to join the same list, unless the Commissioner’s applies their discretion on a continuation of service.
Opportunities to join our list of LQCs will be advertised on the Commissioners’ and police force’s websites as well as through other specialist legal webpages. All LQC appointments are made in line with the judicial-appointment eligibility condition.
Particular attention is paid to ensuring, where possible, that the pool of LQCs that make up the list for the region is as diverse as possible to reflect the diversity of our communities. For LQCs to be effective, and to allow for a trusted and fair process, they need to be selected on a consistent basis.
Training is provided to newly recruited LQCs through the College of Policing and the National Association for Legally Qualified Chairs and continual development opportunities provided by the Commissioners’ teams.
Communication with Professional Standards
Regulations stipulate that the powers given to LQCs should include the setting of all hearing dates, allowing them effective oversight of the hearing process.
The relevant Commissioner’s office will remain in close consultation with the police force’s Professional Standards Departments that have knowledge of the case and awareness of various parties availability, as well as logistical information such as room availability in the force area, so that this information can be passed on to LQCs.
The 2020 Police (Conduct) Regulations provide a clear timetable for misconduct proceedings and LQCs are provided with the case papers and other evidence in accordance with this timetable.
Selection of a Chair for Misconduct Hearings
The agreed method of selecting a chair is the use of a ‘cab rank’ system and availability. On establishing the need to hold a misconduct hearing, our office will access the list of LQCs, and select the first Chair on the list who has conducted the least hearings or heard a case the longest time ago.
The LQC is then contacted and told that a hearing is necessary, sharing with the LQC as many details about the case as possible. For example, the dates when it must be heard by and an estimate of the length of the case. This information will already have been gathered by the Professional Standards Department of the police force. The LQC can then consider their availability and are required to accept or decline the request within three working days to avoid a delay to proceedings.
If the LQC is able to Chair the hearing then they are formally appointed in accordance with regulation 28 of the 2020 Police (Conduct) Regulations. The timetable provisions in the Regulations are then in effect. This includes the serving of a Regulation 30 Notice (written notice to an officer that they will be required to attend a misconduct hearing) and the officer in question’s Regulation 31 Response (the Officer’s written response to the notice that they must attend a misconduct hearing).
The Regulations allow LQCs to then consult with the relevant parties on matters such as the date for any misconduct pre-hearing and the date(s) of the hearing itself. The LQC may need to use their discretion in unilaterally setting dates for these meetings given her or his oversight and the need to prepare all parties for the misconduct hearing itself.
If the LQC isn’t available to be appointed Chair of the proceedings, then they remain at the top of the list to be selected for another hearing. The local policing body then engages the LQC second on the list, and so the selection continues. At times of high demand or lack of LQCs, all LQCs on the list will be contacted initially to establish their available to sit on forthcoming hearing and the cab rank will take effect based on those available.
Contact us to find out more about the use of LQCs and the process of holding police Misconduct hearings in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.