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Kingsley Burrell misconduct hearing 'must be held in public'

PROTESTING: Kadisha Brown-Burrell (right) Kingsley Burrell's sister leading a rally in Birmingham following the inquest verdict

THE WEST Midlands Police have said that misconduct disciplinary hearings involving officers in the Kingsley Burrell case will be held behind closed doors despite a new Home Office ruling that states police complaints hearings should now be held publicly.

Supporters of the Kingsley Burrell Justice Campaign have written to Chris Sims, chief constable of West Midlands Police, asking for the disciplinary hearings, which start on June 22, not to be held privately.

The hearings follow a six-week inquest into the death of the 29-year-old trainee security guard who died in March 2011 after contacting emergency services for help.

In a damning narrative verdict jurors concluded that neglect from health staff and prolonged restraint from police were key factors in the cause of Kingsley’s death. Evidence revealed “gross failings” from the agencies involved.

Home secretary Theresa May announced new regulations three months ago, which came into force on May 1 in a package of reforms to improve the transparency of police complaints and disciplinary hearings.

But detective chief inspector Darren Walsh from West Midlands’ Police Professional Standards Department, said in a statement: “Since May 1 2015 amended regulations came into effect meaning that all misconduct hearings are heard in public unless the chair decides otherwise.

“However, the disciplinary notices against the police officers in this misconduct investigation were served before 1 May, so do not automatically apply in this case.

FIGHT FOR JUSTICE: Kingsley Burrell died in 2011

“There is provision for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to hold the proceedings in public in consultation with relevant parties and we have made the appropriate IPCC Commissioner aware of the requests to do so."

The statement continued: “Complainants and interested parties were already invited to attend misconduct proceedings prior to 1 May and this will continue.”

But Kingsley Burrell campaign spokesman Desmond Jaddoo has argued that a precedent has already been set with the public disciplinary hearings of officers from Thames Valley Police involved in the case of Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah who died in July 2008 following a drugs search by police. This is currently being held in public and being reported by the media.

Jaddoo said: “It is now time for full transparency and accountability by West Midlands Police and these officers who did play a part in the neglect that Kingsley was subjected to, as per the inquest jury’s conclusions.

“The Burrell family is adamant that no more decisions should be made behind closed doors in their quest for answers and justice for Kingsley.”

Leading Birmingham politicians including city council leader Sir Albert Bore and Conservative group leader Robert Alden are also backing a call for a public inquiry to be held into the father-of-three’s death.

In a letter to Theresa May, councillor Alden says: “The inquest found that Kingsley Burrell did indeed tragically die due to the neglect of the very authorities that are paid to protect every one of us.

“While nothing can ever return Kingsley to his family, it is vital that a public inquiry is heard to ensure that this tragedy can never happen again and to ensure that those who failed in their duty are dealt with for misconduct.”

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