Is Arnott the one who is going above and beyond the line of duty? - Simon Allison

So, what have we learned since BBC’s Line of Duty recommenced last month, apart from the fact that CHIS is an anacronym for “covert human intelligence source?”

Simon Allison is an Employment Partner, Blackadders: @EmpLawyerSimon

For those who haven’t yet watched it, Superintendent Ted Hasting is the (fictional) Senior Investigating Officer at the Anti-Corruption (AC) Unit within Central Police. The AC-12 Unit is tasked with investigating the corrupt actions of police officers. Detective Inspector Steve Arnott is part of his task force and is a dogged, tenacious officer.

A Regulation 15 Notice is served when an officer is suspected of general or gross misconduct. But today, I question why DI Arnott has not been served with a Reg 15 Notice and been dismissed by AC-12?

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First there is the small matter of serious insubordination. Yes, Arnott is forceful. He’s even thorough (at times). But his problem is that he clings on and doesn’t let go, no matter where the investigations may lead him…

Adrian Dunbar as Superintendent Ted Hastings, Martin Compston as DS Steve Arnott.

An employee who disregards lawful instruction may be guilty of serious insubordination. Remember in season five when Arnott tipped off an OCG (Organised Crime Group) about a police raid. Even if Arnott believed that he was working with an UPO (Undercover Police Officer) within the OCG, it wasn’t the done thing.

But worse still, was Arnott’s disregard of Hastings’ “Fahrenheit” instruction. Arnott met with the main protagonist (who was an UPO in the OGC). Arnott was given back up by AC-12 who were hiding in an undercover van and speaking to him via a wire. Hastings ordered Arnott to shoot the UPO (in the OCG) and Arnott refused! Yeah, so the instruction by Hastings was arguably illegal. However, surely Arnott’s serious insubordination should have caused AC-12 some concerns, regardless of Arnott’s misguided pursuit of justice. Arnott went rogue against the UPO of the OCG, putting his life (and others) at risk. OMG and WTF?

Secondly there is the small matter of Arnott’s dependence on drink and drugs whilst off duty. We all felt sorry for poor Arnott when he was attacked by “balaclava man” and thrown down three flights of stairs. Since his fall, he is clearly suffering from a long-term physical effect including back problems which have led to a reliance on over-the-counter painkillers and premium lager.

But if an employee is spending his evenings, washing down blister-packs of pills with booze, his ability to do his job correctly could be questioned. An employee in a regulated profession has a duty to disclose his or her fitness (or otherwise) to carry out their duties. I suspect that if Hastings discovered the true extent of Arnott’s addiction to painkillers, he would be yelling more than “Mother of God”.

The final issue of gross misconduct is the fact that Arnott could have brought the organisation into disrepute. Remember when Arnott was caught canoodling with the nurse on the witness’s ward? If ever there was a reason to use the monkey-hiding-behind-its-hands-emoji, it was when the suspect in AC-12’s investigations produced the photos of Arnott in the nurse’s bedroom during her Regulation 15 Interview. And what is going on with Arnott and the widow of the UPC within the OCG (see definition above)? Does Arnott never learn not to mix business with pleasure? This demonstrates to me his reckless lack of judgment, inexcusable for someone in his position.

Imagine if this is reported outwith the confines of the workplace? Will Hastings really allow him back within AC-12 if he discovers that Arnott has behaved improperly?

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Hastings doesn’t have to issue Arnott with another Regulation 15 Notice.

Otherwise Hastings will be very, very disappointed in him and might even suggest that Arnott himself should be sucking diesel, fella.

Simon Allison is Partner and leads the Employment Team at Blackadders

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