Discipline Investigations and Processes

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2014 Police & Justice Conference
25 June 2014

Conference notes that the Police Staff Council of England and Wales published Guidance on Police Staff Misconduct Procedures on 15th August 2011. These guidelines, where adopted, provide a reassuring framework for staff that are being investigated for cases of misconduct or gross misconduct.

However, many investigations are being conducted by warranted police officers in Professional Standards Departments who are more used to investigating crime and dealing with potential criminals than investigating employment issues whilst maintaining a duty of care to the staff involved. Many of these officers will have years of experience and significant levels of training which is put to use when interviewing staff, gathering evidence and producing reports.

Conference further notes that assessments of misconduct or gross misconduct appear to be pitched at a much higher level than the eventual outcome, with allegations of criminal acts being added where possible. Conference believes that this is to grant the investigating officer the ability to gather more information and evidence for the non-criminal misconduct or gross misconduct matters; evidence that would not be accessible were the person employed by any other organisation.

Conference believes that this puts police staff and the UNISON stewards who represent them at a particular disadvantage during any discipline investigation and subsequent hearing.

Conference therefore calls on the Service Group Executive to

1)Work with UNISON’s Learning and Organising Services department to develop additional training for UNISON Stewards in Police branches in order to mitigate these issues.

2)Seek to influence the employer’s representative bodies, as well as the College of Policing where appropriate, over these matters, highlighting the above as bad practice that portrays the police service in a negative light.

3)Consider seeking amendments to the published guidance via the Police Staff Council to better protect our members against any questionable practices that place our members at a disadvantage.

4)Undertake research, consulting branches and regional service groups over this matter and consider making freedom of information requests to employers if appropriate.

5)Publicise our concerns to our members and the public using all available media platforms.