Police misconduct hearing over Peterborough officer's relationship with known criminal to be heard in private not public panel rule

The misconduct hearing of a detective accused of failing to declare a relationship with a 'criminally convicted person' will be heard in private, a panel has ruled.

Wednesday, 4th January 2017, 2:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 4:20 am
Thorpe Wood Police Station in Peterborough

Detective Constable Nina Bartlett, who is based in Peterborough, is accused of failing to tell Cambridgeshire Police about the relationship “as soon as possible”, of searching her partner’s details on a police computer system without a policing reason, and of bringing discredit upon the force.

Cambridgeshire Police have not stated the nature of the criminal conviction.

A notice from the force, alerting the public to the hearing, named DC Bartlett, contained a summary of the allegations and stated that the hearing would be in public.

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But on Wednesday morning the panel, meeting at City College Peterborough in Brook Street, decided to hold the hearing behind closed doors after an application from DC Bartlett’s lawyer. Submissions against the application were also heard.

Chairman Peter Nicholls said that his main concern was around medical evidence, which was not disclosed, and that a public hearing would hamper the ability of the panel to elicit full information.

“The major concern here has been the delivery of medical evidence, medical reports and admissions of those medical notes in respect of the health of the officer,” he said.

“In considering these notes the panel have been mindful that the position is that a misconduct hearing should be held in public and there should be strong and cogent reasons if a hearing or part of a hearing is not to be held in public.”

Mr Nicholls said he acknowledged matters raised by the Press Association, including that DC Bartlett’s name and a summary of the allegations were already in the public domain and had been published on the website of the Peterborough Telegraph, that there could be an adverse effect on public confidence in policing if the hearing went ahead in private and that there were questions over how the public would interpret that.

Mr Nicholls said no anonymity order could be made for DC Bartlett as her name had already been published in the notice, and “no purpose can be served by going into the anonymity situation” as her relationship with a criminally convicted person had also been made public.

“The overriding concern is the physical and mental health of the officer impacting on the ability of the panel being able to do its job fairly to all parties wherever possible and to balance the interest of the public with that of the individuals concerned,” said Mr Nicholls.

“I’m not going to set out details of the medical evidence that the panel has considered.”

He continued: “We categorise this case as one where we would be unable to elicit the full information to do justice not only in the public interest but in fairness and justice to the officer and therefore balancing these two different factors we have reached the conclusion with some reluctance that these proceedings will proceed in private.

“In due course the outcome of this case will be put into the public domain but the hearing will proceed in private session for all those reasons.”

The notice had said the alleged conduct of DC Bartlett had “compromised her position as a police officer” and served to “undermine public confidence in the police service”.