New conduct and performance regulations aiming to create a culture of learning and development rather than sanction and punishment came into effect on 1 February 2020.
They give officers required to improve their performance the chance to undertake Reflective Practice with their line manager to discuss how the issue can be avoided in the future, accept what happened and then move forward rather than face punitive action for minor issues.
There is a higher threshold for disciplinary action so misconduct proceedings will be only be triggered if the wrongdoing warrants at least a written warning and low-level outcomes have been removed.
The harsher outcomes are balanced by the fact that more officers will be diverted away from the misconduct arena and only serious matters will be escalated.
Phill Matthews, national Federation conduct and performance lead, said: “The Federation has spent many years lobbying for a culture change in police discipline - away from blame and punishment and towards learning and performance.
“There needs to be a shift in mindset whereby forces are alive to the fact that mistakes, errors or poor working practice can be corrected and learned from - not just by the individual but by the whole service - and learnt from quickly. But culture change does not happen overnight and we will need everyone’s backing for this to work.”
Phill also highlighted that investigators’ time will now be freed up to focus on removing corrupt officers from the service and welcomed moves to prevent long-drawn-out investigations.
Now, if an investigation is ongoing after 12 months, the Appropriate Authority has to send a report to the Police and Crime Commissioner explaining why and then again if another six months passes.
Phill explained: “We are massively encouraged the Home Office has acknowledged investigations should normally be dealt with within a 12-month period which is something we will continue to push for through our Time Limits campaign.
“Protracted, disproportionate investigations are hellish for officers and have ruined both the working and home lives of some due to the enormous amount of stress and anguish they are put through.
“But there is still more work to be done and we will continue to work with the Home Office, chiefs, HMICFRS and the Independent Office for Police Conduct to monitor how it’s being implemented across forces so our members are treated more fairly in the future.”
Disciplinary action outcomes starting with the least severe:
Other changes include:
Home Office Guidance on the new regulations.