David Crompton, the now suspended South Yorkshire chief constable may never face disciplinary action for allegedly covering up police failures following the Hillsborough disaster that killed 96 Liverpool football fans in 1989. The chief constable has been accused of overseeing attempts to shift the blame on Liverpool fans during the inquest into the tragedy on the day of the FA Cup semi-final.
Dr Alan Billings, the police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire, announced the suspension on 27 April, confirming "with a heavy heart" that Crompton had been suspended. He said: "My decision is based on the erosion of public trust and confidence referenced in statements and comments in the House of Commons this lunchtime, along with public calls for the Chief Constable's resignation from a number of quarters including local MPs."
The Times noted that Crompton has not been accused of any disciplinary offence and may actually be able to retire on a full pension. This is despite rules having been introduced in January that bans officers from leaving the force if they face an accusation that could lead to dismissal.
The newspaper said that it understands Crompton has not been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission or IPCC. This would mean that the new law introduced in January does not apply to the disgraced chief constable. In effect, he can escape misconduct proceedings through retirement.
In March, Crompton who is only 52 years old, said that he had agreed to delay retirement from his £195,000 per annum post until November. He has completed 30 years of service which guarantees him a full police pension, the newspaper pointed out.
The Hillsborough tragedy was not the only incident that has highlighted the failings of the South Yorkshire force. The force came under criticism for failing to tackle organised sexual abuse of children in Rotherham.
There are also calls for a public inquiry into police conduct over the Battle of Orgreave during the 1984-1985 miners' strike action. Crompton also came under personal criticism when his force cooperated with the BBC when his police officers raided the home of singer Sir Cliff Richard over allegations of child abuse. Sir Richard has denied all allegations.
Home Secretary Theresa May has promised to meet Labour party leaders to discuss proposals to insert a Hillsborough clause, mooted by Andy Burnham, shadow home secretary, into the Policing and Crime Bill. The clause is aimed at preventing senior police officers from retiring before disciplinary action could be taken.
Burnham is seeking the adoption of the clause to end "the scandal of retirement as an escape route and of wrongdoers claiming full pensions." He wants to extend the period for which retired police officers could still be subject to disciplinary procedure after leaving their jobs beyond the current proposed 12 months.
May has told parliament that the Crown Prosecution Service will decide later this year whether charges should be brought, once two criminal investigations into the disaster have been completed. Potential charges could include gross negligence, manslaughter, misconduct in public office, perverting the course of justice and perjury, as well as offences under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
While May has insisted that there would be no holding back in pursuing criminal charges against those responsible for the Hillsborough disaster, there is an outcry for a thorough investigation into the culture of collusion that has resulted in the truth behind the stadium disaster to be covered up for more than 27 years.