Suspension is not a Neutral Act

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Conference
2018 Police & Justice Service Group Conference
Date
8 June 2018
Decision

Conferences notes with concern that UNISON members who are under investigation by their force or the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) appear to be facing longer periods of suspension for misconduct reasons, where they are removed from their workplace, isolated from their colleagues and generally left to look after their own welfare and mental health needs.

Members who aren’t suspended from work but remain under investigation with restrictions, which can still include being removed from their workplace and required to work in another location with another team, face the same welfare and mental health needs. This could easily be construed as ‘in work’ suspension.

The impact of misconduct investigations and suspension on members is serious and long term and its effects can spread wider than the individual, being felt by families, friends and colleagues.

In the police service in particular, suspension and ‘in work’ suspension may be more readily considered due to the high reputational risk that misconduct can have on the police service and also due to the sensitive nature of many roles, with access to official and sensitive systems becoming a more and more routine part of roles within the organisation.

The ACAS Discipline and Grievances at Work handbook states that ‘any period of suspension should be as short as possible’ however it is not unusual for members to be suspended from work or suspended ‘in work’ for over a year. In many cases, these are protracted investigations being carried out or managed by the now IOPC.

When investigations are completed and if members have no case to answer, they may well be put back into their workplace and expected to continue business as usual.

Conference calls on the Police and Justice Service Group Executive to:

1)Consider ways to measure the impact suspension has on UNISON Police and Justice members, with a view to conducting research if appropriate and disseminating the findings and recommendations to branches and employers;

2)Campaign in whatever way the SGE sees fit for a maximum suspension period of 12 months;

3)Work with regions and branches to develop processes to monitor and if appropriate intervene in cases where members have been suspended from work for disciplinary reasons for more than 12 months;

4)Work with regions and branches to identify, collate and circulate best practice for supporting members suspended or placed on restricted duties in or out of work.