14 January 2020
New complaints and disciplinary process moves away from ‘blame culture’
Police officers are set to benefit from a simpler, ‘learning based’ complaints and disciplinary process.
New misconduct legislation comes into force next month aimed at ‘shaking up’ the current system. The Home Office says the procedure will be more proportionate and focus on allowing forces and officers to ‘learn from their mistakes’ while addressing concerns about the length of time cases can take.
Line managers will be given more opportunities to improve individuals’ learning and behaviours in lower-level conduct matters, while plans are in place to improve the ‘effectiveness’ of the IOPC.
The change has been rubber-stamped by the College of Policing, which says officers will benefit from the move away from the current ‘blame culture’.
Marcus Griffiths, Head of Ethics and Professional Standards at the College, said: “The new reforms will benefit policing and the public by ensuring complaints are handled in a reasonable, proportionate and timely manner.
“The process will be simplified with greater flexibility to resolve complaints to the public’s satisfaction, focusing on how the police can learn from these complaints and improve our service.
“Officers will benefit from a culture which is not seeking to blame and punish them, but which is more open, reflective of mistakes and focused on learning.
“The new reforms expand to include organisational learning so that police forces, as well as individuals, can learn from mistakes and improve public confidence in the service.”
Police and Crime Commissioners will have a greater role in order to increase independence and improve complaints handling at their forces.
An explanation should investigations take longer than 12 months will also be required under the new guidelines.
NPCC Complaints and Misconduct Lead Chief Constable Craig Guildford said the views of officers, the PFEW and the public had been taken on board ahead of drawing up the new regulations.
“We have listened very carefully to the views of officers, the public and everyone involved in the complaints process throughout this work,” he said.
“This package addresses the valid concerns over timeliness, accountability and proportionality and puts the focus on learning, reflection and fairness.”
“These reforms are aimed at all levels across the police service and have come together after work with the Home Office, Police Federation, the IOPC and the Superintendents Association. There will be greater involvement for local supervisors and a move away from punishment and blame for lower-level misconduct to a focus on learning and development.
“The huge majority of police officers serve the public to the highest standard. Society rightly expects the service to act with honesty and integrity and any instance of gross misconduct falling below that standard will continue to be dealt with robustly.”