Concerns about performance and attendance in the police service should generally be dealt with informally by early intervention and management action. The formal UPPs should only be used if management action has failed or is considered inappropriate.
Unsatisfactory performance (and attendance) is “an inability or failure of a police officer to perform the duties of the role or rank he is currently undertaking to a satisfactory standard or level”
Gross Incompetence is “a serious inability or serious failure of a police officer to perform the duties of the role or rank he is currently undertaking to a satisfactory standard or level, to the extent that dismissal would be justified, except that no account shall be taken of attendance of a police officer when considering whether he has been grossly incompetent”
It is the responsibility of an officer’s line manager to raise any shortcomings or concerns with the individual at the earliest opportunity. This should not be delayed until a Performance and Development Review meeting. The reason for dissatisfaction must be clearly communicated to the officer in question and any mitigating reasons for the under performance should be identified and addressed. In particular consideration as to whether there are any health or welfare issues affecting performance. If an officer has a disability within the scope of the Disability Discrimination Act, then the requirements of that legislation need to be complied with.
The line manager must record the nature of the performance issue, the advice given and steps taken to address the problem. Any improvement in performance must also be formally recorded.
Where there is no sustained improvement following management action it may be appropriate to use the formal UPPs.
The formal procedures are designed to deal with a pattern of unsatisfactory performance, not a single event, unless gross incompetence is involved.
The UPPs do not apply to student officers who are governed by locally determined procedures underpinned by Regulation 13, Police Regulations 2003.
There are three stages in total (see below). A meeting is held at each stage (with an appeal process if required at each stage). The relevant manger must notify the officer a meeting is required. At this time they must provide the officer with details of the procedure, an explanation in writing of the reason for the meeting and details of who will be in attendance. The officer must be informed of his right to be accompanied by a Federation representative. The notification must be accompanied by any papers supporting the view that the officer’s performance or attendance is unsatisfactory. Any papers to be relied on by the officer at the meeting must be submitted to the relevant manager before the meeting.
The period allowed for improvement where applicable at each stage will normally be three months and may not exceed twelve months. Satisfactory performance must be maintained for a twelve month period to avoid the next stage of the process.
The first stage
The officer must be notified in writing by his first-line manager that he is required to attend the first stage meeting. If the officer’s performance is deemed by the first-line manager at the meeting to be unsatisfactory an improvement notice will be issued specifying what is required from the officer. If the officer chooses to appeal, his second line manager will review the decision at the stage appeal meeting.
If an improvement notice is given, there should be an action plan which should help the member achieve and maintain the required improvement. This should be agreed by the member and line manager, identify the relevant weaknesses, describe the steps the member must take and specify a follow up date and a staged review date or dates.
The second stage
The officer must be notified in writing by his second-line manager that he is required to attend the second stage meeting. If the officer’s performance is deemed by the second-line manager at the meeting to be unsatisfactory a final improvement notice will be issued specifying what is required from the officer. If the officer chooses to appeal, a senior officer will review the decision at the appeal meeting.
In any case in which an improvement notice is given, there should be an action plan which should help the member achieve and maintain the required improvement. This should be agreed by the member and line manager, identify the relevant weaknesses, describe the steps the member must take and specify a follow up date and a staged review date or dates.
The third stage
The officer must be notified in writing by a senior manager that he is required to attend the third stage meeting. The decision on the officer’s performance will be made by three panel members, at least one of whom must be a police officer and one should be an HR professional. None of the panel members should be junior in rank to the police officer concerned.
If the panel deems the officer’s performance to be unsatisfactory they have the following options:
- Reduction in rank (performance only)
- Dismissal with a minimum of 28 days notice
- Extension of a final improvement notice (This will occur only in exceptional circumstances and the period cannot be extended more than once)
The officer has no right to legal representation at the third stage meeting if the process has been followed through stages one and two.
An officer has a right to appeal against the findings of a third stage meeting or the outcome imposed. The appeal will be heard by the Police Appeals Tribunal.
At any stage if the officer or his police friend is unavailable on the meeting date proposed by the relevant manager, the officer may propose an alternative date and time which must be accepted provided it is reasonable and within 5 working days of the original date.
In the case of an accusation of gross incompetence stages 1 and 2 of the UPPs will be omitted and an officer will go straight to a Stage 3 meeting. This is only for instances relating to performance matters and is not applicable for attendance issues, which must follow the full three stage process.
An officer accused of gross incompetence may be accompanied by a legal representative in addition to a police friend.
Please note that a greater explanation of the Unsatisfactory Performance Procedures is contained within the Home Office Guidance on Police Officer Misconduct, Unsatisfactory Performance and Attendance Management Procedures (Home Office Circular 26/2008 refers).