THE North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner has pledged to make police disciplinary hearings more transparent.

Julia Mulligan said she felt “more could be done to put transparency at the heart of this process”, after The Press’ sister paper The Northern Echo was refused entry to the latest gross misconduct hearing.

The hearing, which started on Monday, involves long standing police officer, Inspector Sarah Sanderson from the Hambleton area, who is facing dismissal over allegations which include; directing fellow officers to have inappropriate contact with an acquaintance, drafting of a statement on behalf of a family member, accessing information on the police computer system and her submission of reports to the police.

The Northern Echo reporter was not allowed into the hearing - which were made public after a change in rules last year - as the Professional Standards Department said their application was not received with the required two working days notice.

Editor Andy Richardson said: “The police have an incredibly difficult job, but transparency and openness are essential for the public to have faith and trust in what they do and how they do it. We can only be concerned that the system for disciplinary hearings has proved to be so complicated and difficult.

“The facts and information which is being put before the disciplinary panel, which will decide what happens, should be aired widely and publicly. The operation of the system as it stands threatens to takes us back to previous times.”

Mrs Mulligan said: “It seems on this occasion that internal policies have trumped transparency, which simply isn’t right. It does have to be said however that the press could have been in attendance should they have applied correctly, which members of the public have proved is possible as they are now in attendance at the hearing.

“I will raise this issue with the Chief Constable and work with the police to make sure these hearings are as accessible as possible for both the public and members of the press.”