Complaints and Misconduct
There are now two ways in which matters that have been assessed as potential misconduct may be handled:
- Management action by a line manager
- Disciplinary action for misconduct where it is felt that management action is not appropriate
Where a member is suspected of having committed a criminal or misconduct offence, this may result in a formal investigation. In such a case, the member may be subject to both a criminal investigation and an internal misconduct investigation. Where there is a criminal investigation a member has the same rights as any individual who is investigated for an alleged criminal offence under the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
The misconduct will be subject of a severity assessment as to the whether the conduct amounts to either misconduct or gross misconduct.
Misconduct is a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour.
Gross Misconduct means a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour so serious that dismissal would be justified.
Written notice must be given to the member under Regulation 15 of the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2008 or 14A of the Police (Complaint and Misconduct) Regulations 2004 (as amended). This notice should be served as soon as is practicable, unless to do so would prejudice the investigation or any other investigation (including a criminal one).
The member should be informed that whilst he/she does not have to say anything it may harm their case if he/she does not mention, when interviewed or when providing any information, something which he/she relies on in any subsequent proceedings.
Further, he/she should be informed that a written or oral statement may be made to the investigator within 10 days of receipt of the notice. In addition the member is encouraged to suggest at an early stage any line of enquiry that would assist the investigation and to pass on any material they consider relevant to the enquiry. The member has the right to seek advice from the Police Federation at all stages of an investigation, and has the right to be accompanied by a police friend” to any meeting, interview or hearing.
For further information on the services of a “police friend”, contact the JBB. It is important for a member to seek advice at the earliest possible stage and certainly prior to making any formal statement.
If the case is referred to a misconduct hearing or special case hearing (a fast track hearing), the member has the right to be represented by a lawyer.
A temporary move to a new location or role must always be considered first as an alternative to suspension. If the member is suspended it should be with pay at the rate which applied at the time of the suspension. Pay may only be withheld in very limited circumstances (Paragraph 1 of Schedule 2 to the Police Regulations 2003). The position in relation to allowances is more complicated and advice should be sought from your JBB office. The use of suspension must be reviewed at least every 4 weeks and should be used as a last resort.
Interviews during investigation
Formal interview will not always be necessary. In low level misconduct cases, it may be more appropriate to request a written account from the member. If an interview takes place it may be electronically recorded. If not, then a written record or summary of the discussion must be given to the person being interviewed.
Where the matter to be investigated involves both criminal and misconduct allegations, it should be made clear to the member concerned at the start of the interview whether it is in respect of the criminal or misconduct allegations. Anything said by the member concerned in a misconduct interview when not under caution could be subject to an inadmissibility ruling by the court at any subsequent trial. If necessary, appropriate legal advice may be requested.
Low level complaints can be handled through a process of ‘Local Resolution’ which seeks to provide the complainant with a speedy and satisfactory response.
Local Resolution is considered appropriate only if the actions of the member involved should not result in criminal or disciplinary proceedings. Once a complainant has agreed in writing to Local Resolution they cannot change their mind. Local Resolution is normally dealt with by the member’s supervisor. Any explanation given by the member is purely voluntary. Nobody can apologise on the member’s behalf unless they specifically authorise them to do so. If the member accepts all or some of the events detailed in the complaint and/or has an explanation for their actions and want this to be passed on to the complainant, this can be done.
Local Resolution will not be considered as formal disciplinary action although it does not prevent a manager from making a note of the action taken and recording this on the member’s Performance and Development Review.
For a copy of the complete Home Office Guidance on Police Misconduct, Unsatisfactory Performance and Attendance Management Procedures refer to Home Office Circular 26/2008.