90 days from today is Thu, 30 May 2024
Cases will be subjected to assessment.
For the purposes of making the assessment and any decision on the seriousness of the conduct the following definitions will be applied:-
Misconduct – a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour.
Gross misconduct – a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour so serious that dismissal would be justified.
Unsatisfactory performance or unsatisfactory attendance – an inability or failure of a police officer to perform the duties of the role or rank he or she is currently undertaking to a satisfactory standard or level.
An assessment may determine that the conduct alleged amounts to an allegation of unsatisfactory performance rather than one of misconduct. In such circumstances the matter should be referred to be dealt with under the UPP policy.
Equally an assessment may determine that the matter is more suitable to be dealt with through the grievance procedure or may be an issue of direction and control. In such cases the procedures for dealing with such matters, as outlined in Force Policy will be used.
The matter may be moved up to a level of gross misconduct or down to a level of misconduct. In the interests of fairness to the police officer, where a further severity assessment is made which alters the original assessment then the police officer will be informed and will be provided with the reasons for the change in the assessment.
The same principle applies where the initial assessment suggests that the matter is one of misconduct or gross misconduct but subsequent investigation reveals that it is not, and may be, for example, one of unsatisfactory performance. In such cases the police officer will be informed that the matter is now not being considered as a matter of misconduct.
In considering whether a police officer has acted in a way which falls below these standards while off-duty, due regard should be given to that balance and any action should be proportionate taking into account all of the circumstances.
Even when off duty, police officers do not behave in a manner that discredits the police service or undermines public confidence.
In determining whether a police officer’s off-duty conduct discredits the police service, the test is not whether the police officer discredits herself or himself but the police service as a whole.
Police officers are particularly aware of the image that they portray when representing the police service in an official capacity even though they may be off-duty (e.g. at a conference).
When police officers produce their warrant card (other than for identification purposes only) or act in a way to suggest that they are acting in their capacity as a police officer (e.g. declaring that they are a police officer) they are demonstrating that they are exercising their authority and have therefore put themselves on duty and will act in a way which conforms to these standards. For example, during a dispute with a neighbour a police officer who decides to produce a warrant card would be considered to be on duty.
Please note that this notice carries a set timescale for the Officer to respond regarding the allegation, as outlined at bullet point 8 below, you are advised to seek early Federation representation in relation to any such matters.
Written notification will be given to the police officer concerned by the investigator appointed to investigate the case, advising him or her that his or her conduct is under investigation – either under Regulation 17 of the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2020 or under Regulation 17 of the Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2020.
The notice will:
The notice should clearly describe in unambiguous language the particulars of the conduct that it is alleged fell below the standards expected of a police officer.
The terms of reference for the investigation, or the part of the terms of reference for the investigation relating to the individual’s conduct, should, subject to there being no prejudice to that or any other investigation, be supplied to the police officer and to his or her police friend on request, and they should both be informed if the terms of reference change.
Police officers have the right to be accompanied and consult with a police friend at any interview during an investigation into misconduct and at all stages of the misconduct or performance proceedings. The police friend is there to support the officer when they are facing allegations of misconduct or poor performance. This role is integral to the proceedings and an important means of ensuring not only that the officer is supported during the process but also that correct procedures are followed.
A police friend can accompany a police officer at any investigatory interview at any of the stages of both the misconduct and performance proceedings. They can advise the police officer throughout the proceedings and can advise on how to gain legal representation and completion of relevant paperwork. They can make representations to the appropriate authority concerning any aspect of the proceedings under the Conduct Regulations, Complaints Regulations and Performance Regulations. Where both a lawyer and a police friend are present during misconduct or performance proceedings, the officer should be represented at those proceedings by their lawyer.
The officer concerned may choose a police officer, a police staff member or (where the police officer is a member of a police force) a person nominated by the police officer’s staff association to act as their police friend. A person approached to be a police friend is entitled to decline to act as such. A former police officer may also choose a police officer, a police staff member or a person nominated by the former officer’s staff association. Where the former officer is not a former member of a staff association, they may choose someone outside the police force to act as a police friend but this person must be approved by the chief officer of the police force where the former officer last served prior to leaving policing.
A police friend cannot be appointed to act as such if they have had some involvement in that particular case. For example, if they are a witness within the investigation. A police friend should not be asked to provide an account of the matters under investigation or subject to proceedings, for example being cross-examined or called as a witness in relation to their role as police friend or the advice provided to the person they are representing.
The police friend can:
A police friend who has agreed to accompany a police officer is entitled to take a reasonable amount of duty time to fulfil their responsibilities as a police friend and should be considered to be on duty when attending interviews, meetings or hearings.
The purpose of an investigation is to:
The overall aim is a proportionate and balanced investigation, carried out as soon as possible after any alleged misconduct comes to notice and that the investigation is carried out as quickly as possible allowing for the complexity of the case.
Where the investigation identifies that the issue is one of performance rather than misconduct, the police officer should be informed as soon as possible that the matter is now being treated as an issue of performance.
The investigator must ensure that the police officer is kept informed of the progress of the investigation. It is also good practice to keep the police friend informed of progress at the same time.
The investigator is required to notify the police officer of the progress of the investigation at least every 4 weeks from the start of the investigation.
The police officer or his or her police friend, acting on the police officer’s instructions, is encouraged to suggest at an early stage any line of enquiry that would assist the investigation and to pass to the investigator any material they consider relevant to the enquiry.
The investigator (under the Conduct Regulations or the 2002 Act) has a duty to consider the suggestions submitted to him or her. The investigator should consider and document reasons for following or not following any submissions made by the police officer or his or her police friend with a view to ensuring that the investigation is as fair as possible. The suggestions may involve a further suggested line of investigation or further examination of a particular witness.
The purpose is to enable a fair and balanced investigation report to be prepared and where appropriate made available for consideration at a misconduct meeting/hearing and to negate the need (except where necessary) for witnesses to attend a meeting/hearing.
There are two types of misconduct proceedings:
Misconduct Meeting – for cases where there is a case to answer in respect of misconduct and where the maximum outcome would be a final written warning.
Misconduct Hearing – for cases where there is a case to answer in respect of gross misconduct or where the police officer has a live final written warning and there is a case to answer in respect of a further act of misconduct. The maximum outcome at this hearing would be dismissal from the police service without notice.
From 1 May 2015, misconduct hearings may be held in public. A notice advertising a hearing must be published by the Force on its website at least five working days before the day on which the hearing is to take place. The advert will name the officer subject of the hearing, and will mention the subject matter of the investigation, unless such disclosure is deemed inappropriate.