THE door is now ‘wide open’ for changes to police procedure laws in the wake of a decision to reinstate a detective who set the rulebook aside to bring closure to two families.
That is according to Karen Edwards, the mum of murdered Becky Godden-Edwards, after Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher was allowed to keep his job this week following a three-day disciplinary hearing in which he was found guilty of gross misconduct.
An independent panel found he had committed misconduct in breaching the Police and Criminal Evidence Act when interviewing Sian O’Callaghan’s killer Chris Halliwell in March 2011 and in going against force orders in talking to the media.
Karen, 52, has led a campaign to change PACE in light of the case, as his actions led to evidence against Chris Halliwell for Becky’s murder being ruled inadmissible by a High Court judge.
DSI Fulcher failed to take the suspect to the police station, allow him a solicitor and caution the 49-year-old mini-cab driver, of Ashbury Avenue, Nythe, when trying to persuade the killer to take him to Sian’s body and later to ‘another one’.
Becky’s body was found in a field in Eastleach shortly after 22-year-old Sian was discovered at Uffington, but a judge ruled his confession inadmissible due to breaches of the PACE code. Halliwell was jailed for life for Sian’s murder but a second charge for Becky’s murder was withdrawn due to a lack of evidence.
Karen said: “The panel’s decision was the right result and now that leaves the door wide open for PACE to be changed. I have to keep pushing with this campaign.
“There is nothing a change of PACE can do for my Becky now but it might help others. We have 30,000 signatures and we need more but also the MP Robert Buckland will be pushing it in Parliament and I think we have a better chance now.”
Mr Buckland, MP for South Swindon, was commissioned by policing minister Damien Green to look at possible reform of PACE and said now the last of the legal issues have been resolved with the conclusion of the conduct hearing, progress could begin to be made.
He said: “While I understand, quite rightly, the disciplinary processes have to take place, the fact he has been reinstated is just, in the rather unusual circumstances. All of us in that position would have had a very difficult choice to make.
“It is time to renew the pressure on the Government to get some changes to PACE. Through new technology it could meet the demands of fast-changing investigations.
“It should perhaps be considered as part of a wider look at how technology should be reflected in the codes of practice. An example is talk of the use of cameras on firearms officers now.”