When Can a Police Officer Be Removed from the NSW Police Force?

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Police NSW

The New South Wales police officer accused of murdering Jesse Baird and Luke Davies has been removed from the New South Wales Police Force. 

Former senior constable Beau Lamarre-Condon was arrested on 23 February 2024 and charged with murdering the two men at Mr Baird’s home in Paddington on 19 February 2024.

He was refused bail and the bodies of the men were found at a property near Bungonia in the Southern Tablelands, just south of Goulburn.

He was refused bail and remanded in custody, where his employer served him with a ‘show cause’ notice.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb has now made the decision to remove him from the police force.

Rare move

The decision to remove Beau Lamarre-Condon from the force is a rare one – many police officers charged with criminal offences remain on the payroll in some capacity until the finalisation of their cases

Some who are facing serious criminal charges continue to engage in public facing general duties, while others may be taken off the streets. Still others may be suspended, whether or not on full pay,  pending the finalisation of their legal proceedings.

Keeping officers employed is, of course, based on the presumption of innocence and principle of due process – that everyone regardless of their position and alleged crime has the right to the presumed innocent until and unless they are proven guilty in a court of law. 

A case in point is that of officer Kristian White, who is alleged to have caused the death of 95-year old great grandmother. The officer has been suspended on full pay and remains on the force despite public outrage and facing charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, common assault and manslaughter.

Community expectations 

Murder is of course, a very serious charges, although it is also alleged,  it is alleged that the former police officer used his police-issued gun as the murder weapon. 

Of course, calls from the community have been loud and clear too. 

The power of the Commissioner to remove a police officer 

Under section 181D of the Police Act 1990, the Police Commissioner has the ability to remove officers if she has lost confidence in their suitability to continue as a police officer. 

The section provides that: 

(1) The Commissioner may, by order in writing, remove a police officer from the NSW Police Force if the Commissioner does not have confidence in the police officer’s suitability to continue as a police officer, having regard to the police officer’s competence, integrity, performance or conduct.

(2) Action may not be taken under subsection (1) in relation to a Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner except with the approval of the Minister.

Due process

Subsection 3 requires that before making an order to remove an officer, the Commissioner:

(a) must give the police officer a notice setting out the grounds on which the Commissioner does not have confidence in the officer’s suitability to continue as a police officer, and

(b) must give the police officer at least 21 days within which to make written submissions to the Commissioner in relation to the proposed action, and

(c) must take into consideration any written submissions received from the police officer during that period.

Reasons required

Subsection 4 makes clear that ‘the order must set out the reasons for which the Commissioner has decided to remove the police officer from the NSW Police Force.’

Immediate effect

Subsection 5 provides that ‘The removal takes effect when the order is made’; in other words, it takes immediate effect.

Binding decision

Subsection 7 stipulates that a decision to remove an officer is binding, providing that ‘except as provided by Division 1C’:

(a) no tribunal has jurisdiction or power to review or consider any decision or order of the
Commissioner under this section, and

(b) no appeal lies to any tribunal in connection with any decision or order of the
Commissioner under this section.

However, the mentioned Division 1C does provide a mechanism for review under the Industrial Relations Act 1996.

Furthermore, subsection 7A empowers the Supreme Court of New South Wales to review any administrative decision made by the Commissioner or subordinate court or tribunal.

Commissioner may vary or revoke decision

Subsection 7B provides the Commissioner with the power ‘to vary or revoke an order in force under this section’

Order has the same effect as a resignation or retirement

Subsection 8 makes clear an order to remove an officer has ‘the same effect as if the police officer had resigned (or, in the case of a police officer who is of or above the age of 55 years, had retired)’, thereby preserving the officer’s entitlements.

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Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist, and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team. Sonia is the winner of the Mondaq Thought Leadership Awards, Spring 2022.

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