Wiltshire Police concluded the Formal Conduct Hearing of Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher on Thursday 23 January after three days and have decided that he will remain within Wiltshire Police.
The conduct panel, chaired by a Chief Constable from another force and made up of independent members, were tasked with deciding whether or not Detective Superintendent Fulcher had committed three counts of gross misconduct.
Two related to the execution of his duty during the Sian O’Callaghan and Becky Godden Edwards (also known as Rebecca Godden) case in March 2011, and one was in relation to inappropriate contact with the media some 12 months later.
The panel upheld the allegation that Detective Superintendent Fulcher committed gross misconduct by breaching the Standards of Professional Behaviour as outlined by the Police Conduct Regulations 2008.
The panel decided the most appropriate action is to issue DS Fulcher with a final written warning and that he remains a Wiltshire Police officer.
Photo of Steve Fulcher by Richard Wintle of Calyx
Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Pat Geenty and the Angus Macpherson, Police & Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon have both issue statements.
Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Pat Geenty:
“Further to the conclusion of a Formal Conduct Hearing held at Wiltshire Police headquarters this week, I can confirm that the conduct allegations in relation to Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher have been found to be proven.
“The conduct panel, chaired by a Chief Constable from another Force and made up of independent members, were tasked with deciding whether or not Detective Superintendent Fulcher had committed three counts of gross misconduct.
"Two related to the execution of his duty during the Sian O’Callaghan, right, and Becky Godden Edwards (also known as Rebecca Godden), below, case in March 2011 and one was in relation to inappropriate contact with the media some 12 months later.
“The panel was established after the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found that Detective Superintendent Fulcher had a case to answer for gross misconduct, as outlined by the Police Conduct Regulations 2008.
“Over the last three and a half days, the panel has examined all of the evidence presented to them, including hearing from a number of witnesses.
"Prior to reaching their decision, the appropriate authority withdrew one of the alleged breaches relating to information released to the media by Detective Superintendent Fulcher.
“But, it was their finding that Detective Superintendent Fulcher’s actions amounted to gross misconduct in relation to the two breaches: inappropriate contact with the media and the treatment of Christopher Halliwell (in relation to PACE).
“The two breaches upheld related to the following Standards of Professional Behaviour:
• Duties and responsibilities
• Orders and instructions
• Discreditable conduct
“The panel have ruled that the appropriate sanction is for Det/Supt Fulcher to be issued a final written warning.
“Clearly, this case has been very emotive and has attracted a high level of public interest due to the tragic circumstances surrounding it.
“Serious and major crime investigations are a complex aspect of policing and are often fast paced and highly charged. I have great admiration for senior investigating officers across the country who have to make life and death decisions.
"As always, it is vital that investigations are rigorously reviewed in order that good practice, lessons learnt and areas for development are identified. Furthermore, in line with the very prominent national concern regarding the integrity and transparency of the police service, I reiterate that I expect the highest level of professional conduct from all of my officers and staff.
“I fully respect the findings of the panel today and the process that has taken place, and I abide by the decision they have made. Det/Supt Fulcher will continue to be given the appropriate welfare support within the organisation.
“I would like to take this opportunity to pay my respects to the families of both Sian and Rebecca. ??Both families have been through the trauma of not only losing a loved one in horrific circumstances, but have had to endure several hearings, court cases and legal processes.
“This has been a very lengthy and detailed process, but I hope that all parties can now move forward. ??As I am sure you will appreciate, it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further at this stage due to any possible future appeal."
Angus Macpherson, Police & Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon:
“The Chief Constable has responsibility for the direction and control of police officers and staff.
“My role as Commissioner is to ensure that the correct processes are followed by the Constabulary. ?In this instance, my office was required to appoint an independent member of the formal conduct panel and, on this occasion, that person came from outside Wiltshire.
“I am satisfied that the correct process and procedures have been followed and, as such, I respect and support the panel’s decision.
“As Commissioner, my role is to reflect the views of the people of Wiltshire and Swindon. At any time, and especially now, it is of great importance that the police service retains the public’s trust.
“I know that the public expect police officers to display the highest standards of professional behaviour. Those standards have been clearly set out by the Chief Constable.
“This case has led to much discussion about the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) and to calls for the law to be reviewed.
“The legislation was brought in during the 1980s to protect the rights of suspects. The MP for South Swindon, Robert Buckland, who is an experienced barrister, was asked by the Policing Minister to look at the workings of PACE as a result of this case. I support Mr Buckland’s conclusion that some changes would be helpful.
“Finally, I would like once again to offer my condolences to the families of Sian and Becky for their sad loss.”