Anger as Sussex Police misconduct hearing dropped
Police misconduct procedures have been criticised after an officer's hearing was dismissed because of "undue delay".
PC Paul Bridger faced a gross misconduct hearing over an off-duty incident involving a member of the public in 2017. He was cleared of assault in 2018 at Lewes Crown Court.
After the hearing was dismissed, the Sussex Police Federation said the procedures were "not fit for purpose".
Sussex Police said it was waiting to see the panel's full rationale.
Mark Cullern, from the Police Federation, said: "Having the risk of dismissal from your employment hanging over you for two and a half years is completely unacceptable in any industry."
'Life, health and career'
He said PC Bridger attended the hearing on Wednesday and had faced five allegations.
But he said the panel dismissed them, citing unsatisfactory delays and elements having already been dealt with at court.
Mr Cullern said the officer had been subjected to a lengthy investigation which had a substantial impact on his life, health and career, and now faced a managed return-to-work process.
He said: "There are far too many officers appearing in gross misconduct hearings which should be dealt with by other means."
Sussex Police confirmed the hearing was dismissed because of its "undue delay".
Supt Steve Boniface, head of professional standards, said: "We await the full rationale of the panel, which we will fully consider along with the officer's reinstatement from suspension."
The Independent Office for Police Conduct said the investigation was carried out by Sussex Police and referred the BBC to the Home Office on the wider claims.
A Home Office spokesperson said in a statement: "The government has introduced a programme of measures to reform the handling of police complaints and disciplinary procedures, and improve standards of behaviour.
"The latest reforms will make misconduct hearings more effective, timely and fair."