2 November 2020
This month we are shining a light on the work of the Police Federation of England and Wales’ (PFEW) Conduct and Performance Sub-Committee along with the dedicated work of our Conduct Leads up and down the country.
There can be no doubt that being investigated for misconduct is one of the most stressful things an officer will ever face in their career. We hear too many horrific cases of officers whose lives – and those of their loved ones – have been put on hold while lengthy investigations play out. All too often our members face lengthy investigations. The detrimental impact this has on their mental and physical wellbeing continues long past the years of investigation. This must stop, so making the conduct and performance system fit for purpose for our members is the backbone of our work.
This is why we launched Time Limits campaign, calling for a 12-month limit for investigations from allegation to conclusion. We have submitted powerful evidence from our campaign to the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee’s investigation into the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s handling of complaints and we are willing to give oral evidence to the committee when the enquiry opens.
If an officer makes a mistake or if an officer’s conduct is brought into question, it is only right they are held to account in an appropriate way. But this is where the word “appropriate” makes all the difference and any investigation must be proportionate and swift - not just for our members but also for the people we serve. The public, like our members, cannot be expected to wait years upon years for closure. The process of bringing about proceedings is currently NOT timely; it’s clunky, and extremely costly and at the end of it all, because of how long it takes, all concerned have lost their belief in the credibility of the system.
The 2020 Conduct and Performance Regulations with the new reflective practice came into force in February this year whereby if an officer has a minor misdemeanour, or it is evident from an early stage that their action was a mistake, they can work with their line manager to reflect on it, consider what they could have done differently, take learning points from it and grow as an officer. This process can also draw out possible learning for a force too. Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that the implementation of these new regulations has taken a back seat in many forces. We are seeing different ends of the scale in how the new regulations and reflective practice are being adopted, our concern being a lack of training to line managers, lack of belief that the new system will work, lack of cultural change of what amounts to learning versus disciplinary process. PFEW will continue to work with our stakeholders on this. We simply cannot sit back and see a re-enactment of what happened with the Taylor reform.
There is still much, much more to do. At the heart, we are all Fed reps and we all want what is best for our members, and we won’t stop until we get it.
Conduct and Performance Sub-Committee Secretary, PFEW
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