Home > Cases > (Home Secretary) v Humberside Police Authority & Westwood

The Home Secretary had suspended the Chief Constable of Humberside following the publication of the Bichard report which followed the tragic events of the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells.

 

Stanley Burnton J. held that the Home Secretary had established that he had exercised the power conferred on him by section 42(1A)of the Police Act 1996, as amended, by requiring the Humberside Police Authority to suspend the Chief Constable:

 

12. The power of a Home Secretary, in a sense, is a default power. It is exercised on a national basis having regard to the need for the maintenance of public confidence at large in all the police forces in this country. The wording of the statute confers a large element of discretion on the part of the Secretary of State. The question is whether he considers it is necessary for the maintenance of public confidence in the force in question that the Chief Constable be suspended. As I have indicated, it cannot be suggested that the Bichard Inquiry Report, which was before the Home Secretary, could not justify his coming to that conclusion.

 

13. In my judgment, it is clear that the Secretary of State validly exercised his power under section 42(1A). It follows that the Police Authority has been in default of its statutory duty in either refusing to suspend the police constable or deferring any action on the instruction of the Home Secretary.

 

14. In conclusion, I do say that in a case such as this, it is not for the court to reach any conclusion as to whether or not it is right or wrong for the Home Secretary to exercise the power he did, or whether the particular criticisms in the Bichard Inquiry Report which have been referred to are right or wrong. The only question is whether the Home Secretary validly came to the conclusion he did, which is that he considered it necessary for the maintenance of public confidence in the force in question for the Chief Constable to be suspended, by applying the test stipulated by Parliament. In my judgment he did so. He therefore exercised the statutory power validly in the terms which Parliament conferred on him.

 

Nathalie Lieven represented the Home Secretary.”>12. The power of a Home Secretary, in a sense, is a default power. It is exercised on a national basis having regard to the need for the maintenance of public confidence at large in all the police forces in this country. The wording of the statute confers a large element of discretion on the part of the Secretary of State. The question is whether he considers it is necessary for the maintenance of public confidence in the force in question that the Chief Constable be suspended. As I have indicated, it cannot be suggested that the Bichard Inquiry Report, which was before the Home Secretary, could not justify his coming to that conclusion.

 

13. In my judgment, it is clear that the Secretary of State validly exercised his power under section 42(1A). It follows that the Police Authority has been in default of its statutory duty in either refusing to suspend the police constable or deferring any action on the instruction of the Home Secretary.

 

14. In conclusion, I do say that in a case such as this, it is not for the court to reach any conclusion as to whether or not it is right or wrong for the Home Secretary to exercise the power he did, or whether the particular criticisms in the Bichard Inquiry Report which have been referred to are right or wrong. The only question is whether the Home Secretary validly came to the conclusion he did, which is that he considered it necessary for the maintenance of public confidence in the force in question for the Chief Constable to be suspended, by applying the test stipulated by Parliament. In my judgment he did so. He therefore exercised the statutory power validly in the terms which Parliament conferred on him.”

 

Nathalie Lieven represented the Home Secretary.”>The Home Secretary had suspended the Chief Constable of Humberside following the publication of the Bichard report which followed the tragic events of the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells.

 

Stanley Burnton J. held that the Home Secretary had established that he had exercised the power conferred on him by section 42(1A)of the Police Act 1996, as amended, by requiring the Humberside Police Authority to suspend the Chief Constable:

 

12. The power of a Home Secretary, in a sense, is a default power. It is exercised on a national basis having regard to the need for the maintenance of public confidence at large in all the police forces in this country. The wording of the statute confers a large element of discretion on the part of the Secretary of State. The question is whether he considers it is necessary for the maintenance of public confidence in the force in question that the Chief Constable be suspended. As I have indicated, it cannot be suggested that the Bichard Inquiry Report, which was before the Home Secretary, could not justify his coming to that conclusion.

 

13. In my judgment, it is clear that the Secretary of State validly exercised his power under section 42(1A). It follows that the Police Authority has been in default of its statutory duty in either refusing to suspend the police constable or deferring any action on the instruction of the Home Secretary.

 

14. In conclusion, I do say that in a case such as this, it is not for the court to reach any conclusion as to whether or not it is right or wrong for the Home Secretary to exercise the power he did, or whether the particular criticisms in the Bichard Inquiry Report which have been referred to are right or wrong. The only question is whether the Home Secretary validly came to the conclusion he did, which is that he considered it necessary for the maintenance of public confidence in the force in question for the Chief Constable to be suspended, by applying the test stipulated by Parliament. In my judgment he did so. He therefore exercised the statutory power validly in the terms which Parliament conferred on him.

Nathalie Lieven represented the Home Secretary.

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