Corbishley blames under-investigation officers for social-media attack on him
The Commissioner of Police has accused a “small minority” of officers under investigation over their behaviour on the job for the launch of a social media attack against him.
Stephen Corbishley said he had hired a lawyer to block further sharing of the WhatsApp message, which contained a string of allegations about his professional and personal life.
Mr Corbishley added: “On a professional front, I am offended by its content.
“On a personal level, I am deeply upset by some of the suggestions contained within, not least as they are wholly untrue.“
He added: “I do not feel any necessity to defend any of the subjects contained within this post as the true facts speak for themselves.”
Bur Mr Corbishley said: “However, I am of the conclusion that this communication, given its style of language and content, has come from a small minority of officers within the BPS who are aggrieved to being rightly addressed for their standards of unprofessional behaviour.”
Mr Corbishley was appointed commissioner in May 2018 from Kent Police in Britain, where he was an acting assistant chief constable.
His appointment – and that of Chief Justice Narinder Hargun – led Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, to ask the UK Government to ensure “appropriate succession planning” was carried out for roles appointed by the Governor to make sure they were later filled by Bermudians.
Mr Corbishley launched a bid to improve standards of conduct in the service, which included the recruitment of specialist British officer Gillian Murray, from the UK’s College of Policing, to head the Professional Standards Department.
The drive has led to 87 police officers – more than 20 per cent of the service’s strength – being investigated.
Statistics released through a public access to information request revealed that three officers were dismissed between August 2018 and last month.
The Pati response also showed that five officers were suspended in 2018, three in 2019 and two so far this year.
A total of nine officers were put on restricted duties last year.
The anonymous WhatsApp message – addressed to John Rankin, the Governor, and signed by “Concerned Citizens of Bermuda” – attacked Mr Corbishley for appointing Detective Superintendent Murray.
It said: “It’s time to send Corbishley back to the UK with Gillian Murray.
“We ask every Bermudian to stand firm and together to have our own Commissioner of Police take his/her rightful place in our island home.”
A Government House spokesman said: “The social media message from ’Concerned Citizens of Bermuda’ has not to date been sent directly to the Governor.
“The current work being carried out under the authority of the Commissioner in addressing professional standards within the Bermuda Police Service has the full support of the Governor.”
The BPS has about 400 officers, 67 per cent of them Bermudian.
There are 132 non-Bermudian officers, including 36 British, 28 Barbadian and 21 Jamaican.
The racial make-up of the service is 73 per cent black, 26 per cent white and one per cent Asian.
A police spokesman said last month that 70 per cent of officers under investigation for alleged misconduct were Bermudian.
He added that was “closely on par with the profile of Bermudian officers in the BPS”.
The spokesman said: “Seventy seven per cent of those being investigated are black officers, again closely on par with the service’s profile, with 23 per cent white officers being investigated, 50 per cent being white Bermudian.”
He added the BPS had invested in its Professional Standards Department “to deliver a range of changes across the service, to ensure high standards of professional conduct and provide an effective response when dealing with public complaints alleging wrongdoing by officers and staff”.
The spokesman added: “PSD’s focus also assists with the BPS becoming a learning organisation, with officers and staff expected to be professional on and off duty.
“Additionally, much work has been done to reduce the risk of wrongdoing, particularly aspects of corruption, through a range of policy and other procedural changes.”
The spokesman said Ms Murray was seconded to the BPS for 12 months to “lead this change programme” with the goal that a BPS officer would later take on her role.
Mr Corbishley said: “The processes we follow are based on ensuring that all complaints or allegations are investigated proportionally, fairly and transparently.
“Indeed, on investigation of many matters, once the facts are established, the result is informal or no action at all.”
But Mr Corbishley added: “However, we have seen an increase in the number of officers being dealt with for serious matters.
“Whilst I take no pleasure in this, it is essential such issues are not brushed under the carpet and that we hold to account officers and staff to meet high standards of integrity and professionalism.
“The BPS’s Professional Standards Department acts without fear or favour and each case is addressed on its merit and not the ethnicity or nationality of the officer involved.”
The Royal Gazette requested an interview with Mr Corbishley yesterday about the WhatsApp message.
A police spokesman responded: “The Commissioner of Police has made clear his position on this matter and there is now no need for that to be revisited.
“The allegations made are not based in fact and thus warrant no further discussion, as this will only serve to detract from the good work being done by the members of the Bermuda Police Service.”