17 August 2022
The Police Federation of England and Wales is broadly supportive of the College of Policing’s updated misconduct guidance, but stresses independent misconduct hearing panels should not feel pressured by chiefs and politics.
Today (17 August), the College published revised guidelines on police misconduct proceedings with a greater focus on cases relating to violence against women and girls and in instances where public confidence is likely to be affected by an officer’s actions.
The guidance makes clear the possible wider impact on public confidence of an officer’s wrongdoing should be a large part of the decision making of independent chairs, as well as the specific incident itself.
Additionally, a new section highlights that any misconduct relating to violence against women and girls is to be treated as “wholly unacceptable”.
“Any violence against women and girls – on or off duty – will always have a high degree of culpability and the outcome should be severe,” said its Chief Executive Officer Andy Marsh.
"The process will be fair but any officer whose behaviour is found to damage public confidence in the police service should expect to be sacked," he added.
It also focuses on making the disciplinary process fair for officers and stresses an officer’s right to an impartial review, as well as setting out the 2020 police conduct regulations which encourages forces to make use of the reflective practice process for low-level issues where an officer could learn from their mistakes.
PFEW Conduct and Performance Lead Phil Jones said: “We are broadly supportive of the new guidelines as it is vital the service continues to build public confidence focusing on tackling violence against women and girls, and domestic violence.
“We absolutely condemn any dishonest or inappropriate behaviour and we agree officers who are found guilty of gross misconduct should be dealt with swiftly and appropriately.
“However, it is important to point out we already have a fair and transparent system in place with independent panels consisting of both officers and members of the public, who make decisions based on the facts and evidence presented to them.
“It is important the service shows the public it is taking these issues seriously, but the reemphasis on the matter, which is already being handled through a fair and transparent system, carries a risk of prejudice and could sway the decisions made by legally qualified chairs and independent panels.
“Legally qualified chairs should feel empowered to make their own decisions based on facts, and not feel influenced by chief constables and undue political and social pressures.
“Moving forward we will continue to work with forces and the Government to ensure disciplinary processes are of the highest standard not just for officers, but also for members of the public and PFEW will continue to lobby for sanctions when misconduct investigations impact those involved for more than a year.”