AN ACCUSATION of misconduct against the elected head of Thames Valley Police is due to be heard today by an official panel – which it has now emerged has no power to punish him.

Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld was accused last month of abusing his position by using his work email account to personally warn a private citizen they might face criminal action.

Complaints against Mr Stansfeld are sent to his own office, before they are passed onto the police and crime panel – which is made up of 18 councillors from across Thames Valley and is designed to hold his decisions to account.

That panel is now meeting today to judge whether Conservative Mr Stansfeld has committed misconduct – but the limited powers of the panel means that if Mr Stansfeld has not broken the law the panel can only suggest what he could do differently in the future or ask him to apologise – and even then he could choose not to.

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When police officers and others working in the force are complained about, they are investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Controversial rules mean that if a serious complaint is made then the officer is dismissed until there is a resolution, which sometimes takes months.

However the panel which is supposed to hold £86,700-a-year Mr Stansfeld to account is so powerless, that unless it decides he has broken the law, he may not have to face any repercussions for misconduct.

The official complaints procedure published online states: “The Complaints Sub-Committee should only decide that the complaint should be so referred if matters come to light during the informal resolution process which indicate the commission of a criminal offence, thus leading to the earlier decision as to whether or not the complaint was a serious complaint being reversed.”

It also explains that the panel cannot actually investigate the complaints – it can only hear both sides of the argument and make a decision.

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Buried in the procedure it adds: “In accordance with regulations, the Complaints Sub-Committee may not conduct an investigation. The Complaints Sub Committee may exercise its delegated powers to require the person complained against to provide information or documents or attend before it to answer questions or give evidence, as this will not be regarded as an investigation. However, any other step intended to gather information about the complaint, other than inviting the comments of the complainant and the person complained against, will be likely to amount to investigation.”

The most recent complaint, which will be discussed in private – away from the press, public and Mr Stansfeld – has been sent in by Michael Murrin.

Mr Murrin accused Mr Stansfeld of 'abusing his office and powers' after he received an email from the police commissioner warning him of police action in a bid to help a billionaire’s ex-wife find his missing millions.

Mr Stansfeld admitted sending the email on behalf of Michelle Young, who accused Mr Murrin of holding onto hard drives relating to her ex-husband Scot Young’s business.

Read the whole story here.

A councillor said he must be held accountable for his actions.

They have since been sent to police, but the matter seemingly had nothing to do with Thames Valley or the surrounding area.

Mr Murrin explained in his complaint: “On October 7 I received an email from Mr Stansfeld.

“This was a completely unexpected intervention from Mr Stansfeld in what is a civil dispute between myself and Ms Young. I have no connection with Thames Valley. I live in Preston, Lancashire.

“He refers to me being involved in ‘extortion’.

“This is an extremely serious matter. It not only prejudices my reputation and brings into question my integrity, it also threatens to have me unjustifiably embroiled in criminal proceedings. Mr Stansfeld appears to be abusing his office and powers.”

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It has now emerged that a a similar complaint to Mr Murrin’s was sent to the panel in September.

Though the details have been kept secret, the sub-committee revealed it had ‘partially upheld it’ and asked the PCC to ensure there was more ‘clarity and transparency’ when he was acting in his role as police and crime commissioner or deputy lead portfolio holder for fraud and cyber crime.

Mr Murrin said the system for holding Mr Stansfeld to account was ‘rotten’ and did not work.

He said: “They [PCCs] are a law onto themselves, and they are out of control – it is [the system] ripe for contempt and nobody’s holding them to account. It seems the system is rotten.”

Asked if the complaints panel has enough power to deal with complaints, scrutiny officer Khalid Ahmed said: “All I can say is that the Complaints sub-committee have to work within the parameters of the regulations.”