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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Interior wants to put an end to undeclared work by police officers in journalistic conventions and law firms


National Police agents, at an act in the Canillas complex (Madrid) that took place in December 2019.GORKA LEJARCEGI

The Home Office is finalizing a royal decree that will tighten the rules on incompatibilities for national police officers seeking a second job in the public or private sector. Among the new measures, the text establishes the obligation of agents who wish to intervene “in any audiovisual, printed or digital social media” to speak about “police activities or where information is due to their state of the national police” to have previously an “explicit authorization” from the Director General or, failing that, from those responsible for the press office of the institution, according to the draft text to which EL PAÍS had access. According to inside sources, this part of the rule is usually inspired by those that already exist in other bodies, such as those of the Madrid and Granada Metropolitan Police.

This measure will not affect union representatives if their interventions in the press are for the police “in defense of workers’ and professions’ interests”. According to ministry sources, the aim is to curb the proliferation of agents in journalistic gatherings, particularly on television, who express their opinions on police cases while investigations are still ongoing, which has caused uneasiness among those in charge of investigations and interference in those on numerous occasions who receive Police officers attending these gatherings have an economic perception of these interventions. The document lists among the objectives of the new decree preventing the pursuit of ancillary activities like this from causing “a deterioration in the prestige and reputation of the National Police,” which currently has 73,001 officers.

The text, which will be analyzed this Wednesday in one of the commissions of the Police Council, the joint negotiating body between the representatives of the agents and the General Directorate, contains 10 incompatibilities with work in the private sector and several conditions for the public sector. For example, it prohibits legal agents from practicing as a lawyer or providing legal advice on their own account or in law firms “in criminal or administrative matters in connection with the powers of the state police” as well as from practicing the profession of lawyer or “from practicing any other activity that requires their presence may require the courts during working hours”.

Furthermore, exercising the police function is considered incompatible with “holding organic office in political parties”, whether paid or not. In the case of police forces assigned to “order or procurement units”, they are prohibited from “carrying out activities in companies that supply goods, provide services or carry out work managed by these units”. The text also prohibits police officers from doing private security work or serving on “boards or governing bodies” of companies in this industry. Such was the case of Commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, who secretly ran a consulting and intelligence firm that made him millions of dollars in profits allegedly illegally using confidential data from police databases.

The interior will also force police officers who leave the force to wait two years in order to develop in private companies “activities that require specific knowledge acquired by the interested party for the exercise of their police functions”, since these ” provided and paid for”. by the administration during their training as officers. So far, many police officers have been employed as security managers of large companies after retiring from the police force.

In its justification, the draft regulation emphasizes that these measures “are not only intended to restrict those activities that can affect the availability and punctuality of service provision [de los agentes]but also possible situations that could jeopardize the impartiality and independence of National Police personnel in the performance of their duties”.

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For civil servants who finally get permission from the Ministry of the Interior to reconcile another activity with their police duties, the decree on the economic performance of this second activity will set limits and, as a novelty, force them to forego part of their official salary. You will also not be able to work more than 20 hours per week in this second job. In addition, they may not “wear the uniform, take advantage of, or invoke their condition to obtain any advantage or consideration in the pursuit of private activities”.

In order to apply for a permit, the agent must send an application to the Human Resources Department of the General Directorate of Police, in which he must provide the details of the job offer, including the position and working hours. Interior then has up to four months, extendable by a further month, to clarify the application in writing, whereby the final decision must be justified. “In no case does the approval or recognition of compatibility imply a change in the working day and working hours of the National Police,” the text stresses.

The project also lists those activities that are exempt from the rule of incompatibilities. This includes anyone involved in teaching with the management of the agent’s personal or family assets, conducting seminars or lectures, preparing candidates for police service with a maximum of 75 hours per year, producing literary works, artistic, scientific and technical ” occasionally” in public and private centers and act as referees and coaches in sports competitions as long as it is not paid.

In case of non-compliance, the project considers the application to the agent of the disciplinary regime, the catalogues as serious misconduct (up to three months suspension) or very serious (up to six years or dismissal) having a second job without appropriate prior approval if necessary. In addition, it obliges those in charge of the units who are aware of violations of the incompatibility regime by their employees to “push for the application of the disciplinary regime regulations”. In 2021, the General Directorate of Police sanctioned then-Head of Police Justice (Jupol, the majority union among the agents), José María García, with a 14.5-month suspension of employment and salary for his service as sole shareholder and administrator of a company , without having exactly the required compatibility permission.

Several police union organizations have already expressed their opposition on various points of the project and will express this at the meeting this Wednesday, the seventh that they have held with the administration since the beginning of 2021 negotiations to agree on the document have started. finally. However, this opposition from the agents’ representatives will not prevent Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska from submitting it to an upcoming meeting of the Council of Ministers for approval. Once published in the BOE, it will come into effect after 20 days.

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Source elpais.com

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