Met Police diplomatic officer keeps job after arrest on suspicion of going equipped for theft
A SPECIALISED police officer involved in the protection of government ministers and diplomats, who was arrested after he was allegedly caught with a bag full of equipment for carrying out thefts, has kept his job after a misconduct hearing..
PC Stephen Potts is part of the armed Met Police Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, which is responsible for protecting diplomats and MPs.
He was given a final written warning following a professional misconduct hearing in connection with an incident in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, when he was allegedly seen acting suspiciously while off duty at night in a residential street.
PC Potts was alleged to have fled the scene on December 22 2019 and a backpack containing the equipment was found nearby.
A Met Police public notice about the hearing said: "Police were called and after a short foot chase, a discarded backpack was found containing several items consistent with someone going equipped for theft, leading to the arrest of PC Potts who had been detained in the vicinity.
"It is further alleged that PC Potts had the backpack in his possession, and was subsequently dishonest about his actions on the night."
He faced allegations that his conduct breached the standards of professional behaviour in respect of honesty and integrity and discreditable conduct at a three day-hearing to be held remotely.
Hertfordshire Police said he was never charged after the arrest and an evidence file was not sent to the CPS.
A Hertfordshire Police spokeswoman said: "A man who was arrested in Hemel Hempstead on 22 December 2019, on suspicion of going equipped to steal, was later released with no further action taken.
"A thorough investigation was carried out by police and all lines of enquiry were followed. There was deemed to be insufficient evidence to present a case to the CPS."
A further Met Police public notice following the hearing said: "The panel was chaired by Legally Qualified Chair Maurice Cohen. "Some of the allegations against PC Potts were found proven as misconduct and others were not proven.
"PC Potts was given a final written warning."
During the coronavirus pandemic the Met's misconduct hearings have taken place in private, with no press able to attend.
As a result, the force has been publishing summaries of the cases detailing how the outcome was reached and some of the evidence.
However, in some cases, including PC Potts' the force has refused to release these.
A Met Police spokesman said the force made representations to Mr Cohen to release a summary.
However, he refused to do so.
He said: "Each case is decided on its own merit by the independent Legally Qualified Chair having considered the circumstances and any submissions made by the parties involved.
"Essentially the MPS will makes submissions that a suitable redacted copy of the outcome should be published to maintain public confidence where the matter is heard in private due to covid.
"Most chairs adopt this approach, some do not depending on the circumstances of the case and having considered any submissions made by the defence."
We asked what the reasons were the chair gave for issuing no summary in this case.
The spokesman added: "Having considered views from all parties, the chair decided that many redactions (to the outcome document) requested by the subject officer were reasonable and justifiable – these described his personal circumstances and were not directly related to the allegations of misconduct that were found proven.
"Having made this decision, the chair was of the view that the outcome rationale would have needed to be entirely rewritten as otherwise it would not have made sense to any reader.
"However the chair noted that he did not have to publish a full rationale under the 2012 Police Conduct Regulations and so opted to publish a notice that mirrored the pre-hearing notice that was published on the MPS website."
We have submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for a summary of the case.