New clause 4 - Protected disclosures by police officers

Police (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 11th March 2003.

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'(1) After Article 67K of the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (S.I. 1996/1919 (N.I.16) insert—

''67KA Application of Part VA and related provisions to police

(1) Paragraph (2) applies for the purposes of—

(a) this Part,

(b) Article 70B and Articles 71 and 72 so far as relating to that Article, and

(c) Article 134A and the other provisions of Part XI so far as they relate to the right not to be unfairly dismissed in a case where the dismissal is unfair by virtue of Article 134A.

(2) A person who holds, otherwise than under a contract of employment, the office of constable as a police officer shall be treated as an employee employed by the Chief Constable under a contract of employment, and any reference to a worker being ''employed'' and to his ''employer'' shall be construed accordingly.''

(2) In Article 243(1) of that Order (provisions which do not apply to persons engaged in police service under a contract of employment)—

(a) omit the words ''Part VA,'';

(b) after ''Articles 132'' insert '', 134A'';

(c) after ''Article 132'' insert ''or 134A''.

(3) Article 16 of the Public Interest Disclosure (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 (S.I. 1998/1763 (N.I. 17)) (exclusion of police service from provisions about protected disclosures) shall cease to have effect.

(4) Subsections (1) to (3) come into force in accordance with provision made by the Secretary of State by order.'.—[Jane Kennedy.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Photo of Joe Benton Joe Benton Labour, Bootle

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendments Nos. 83 to 87.

Photo of Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

The purpose of the new clause, together with the consequential amendments that repeal the provisions of the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 and those of the Public Interest Disclosure (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 in schedule 3, is to afford protection to police officers who make protected disclosures. The new clause, which is supported by the Chief Constable and the ombudsman, replicates provisions in the Police Reform Act 2002. Subsection (1) provides that for the purposes of the 1996 order, relating to protected disclosures, police officers will be deemed to be employed by the Chief Constable under a contract of employment. Subsection (2) has the effect that the protected disclosure provisions in the 1996 order will apply to persons engaged in the police service under a contract of employment. The new clause provides for these provisions to be commenced by order.

A protected disclosure includes disclosures that a criminal offence has been committed, that a person has failed to comply with a legal obligation to which he or she is subject or that there has been a miscarriage of

justice. In the context of police conduct, protected disclosures would include disclosures that an officer had breached the code of ethics. The purpose of these changes is to ensure that police officers and trainees will be able to report wrongdoing by other police officers with the assurance of the full protection of the law if they are subsequently discriminated against or suffer detriment. In such circumstances, they would be able to make claim to an industrial tribunal. Amendments Nos. 83 to 87 contain consequential amendments. I hope that this is an uncontroversial measure and that it will be given a fair wind.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.