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West Midlands Police Federation

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'Conduct investigations need to be sped up - for everyone's sake'

12 April 2024

West Midlands Police Federation’s discipline lead has highlighted the impact of lengthy conduct investigations on individual officers, their colleagues and the public.

Dave Hadley said that the time it takes for allegations to be heard needed to be speeded up for the sake of everyone involved.

He cited an investigation into five people which concluded after 11 months with no case to answer. He said it was by no means one of the worst examples, but the fact investigations around this length of time are becoming normalised was ‘deeply troubling’.

Dave said: “The incident was largely captured by very clear CCTV and audio. It was manifestly obvious that the complaint was false and malicious, but here we are almost a year later, during which time those officers were restricted from operational duty, placed in back-office roles.”

Dave said the investigation has had a financial impact on those involved, with one officer in particular seeing a drop in his salary after being returned to PC rank, losing shift allowance, and being unable to work overtime.


West Midlands Police Federation’s discipline lead Dave Hadley.


“With that investigation, the poor chap had to get a second mortgage,” Dave said. “His wife had to take on extra hours. It had massive impact on them and their family.

“When people are suspended from duty, the public are paying someone to do nothing. When officers are restricted from duty, they’re not doing the full role of a police officer. In both cases the officers suffer and so do the public.

“In this case there were five people for the best part of the year doing back-office jobs. That is an enormous financial cost to the public.”

He also repeated his long standing concerns around the ‘toxic ripple effect’ of such investigations.

“If you’re a PC and you’ve seen one of your colleagues being treated like that for doing no more, in your view, than what they’re trained to do as a police officer, how likely is it that when you are faced with attending incidents that you will rush to deal with it?

“If left unchecked, you end up with a passive style of policing, where officers don’t have the confidence to exercise their powers, because they fear the financial and psychological consequences of the process that’s designed to hold officers to account.”

Dave’s comments come after the Home Office announce that investigations into police officers suspected of committing offences in the line of duty will be sped up to provide swifter clarity to both officers and victims.

The Home Office also announced a rise in the threshold for referring police officers for criminal prosecution, saying that ‘only cases that have a reasonable prospect of conviction should be referred’. This mirrors the test for members of the public suspected of committing a crime.

The Police Federation of England and Wales has been campaigning for a disciplinary proceedings to be speeded up through its Time Limits campaign.

Dave said: “I don’t criticise individual investigators. They’ve undoubtedly got a desk full of other jobs which they have to prioritise. The fact is that one person can only do the work of one person, and yet I’m aware of the workload of some investigators where two people would struggle to complete it.

“Those who are charged with investigating officers within professional standards departments and at the IOPC need to be afforded sufficient resources to fulfil their role.

“What is needed is an influx of staff and resources, and we also need them to use those resources efficiently, making braver decisions around what could be dealt with through learning outcomes for example.”

READ MORE: Government has to act on poor police pay and morale.