The case to answer test remains unchanged but new time limits are imposed in which the CTA decision is taken and for the holding of any misconduct hearing. The IOPC is also now given the power to present cases.
I had said in an earlier post that the regulations sought to interfere more intrusively in the decisions and discretions of LQCs. The one in which most practitioners may be interested is that concerning legal representation. By reg 7(2), the unavailability of a relevant lawyer is said to be “not a valid ground for unreasonable delay in any stage of disciplinary proceedings where alternative legal representation can be found”.
The changes to the investigation process are few but important. An officer is entitled to more information that previously and there are now timescales which, if not met, require an explanation to be given to the policing body.
One of the biggest changes in the regulations is the introduction of a “practice requirement improvement” process. A practice requiring improvement is, by reg 3, underperformance or conduct not amounting to misconduct or gross misconduct, which falls short of the expectations of the public and the police service. Management action and management advice have been abolished.
The Police (Conduct) Regulations 2008 were intended to replace a blame culture with one of admission and improvement – this is another attempt to achieve this. Insofar as this will affect only those cases that previously might have been addressed as misconduct simpliciter, it will not touch the matters of gross misconduct where counsel are involved.
The Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012 regulations had adapted to a few changes – the refusal to permit officers to resign, the arrival of former officer proceedings, the introduction of legally qualified chairs. The Police (Conduct) Regulations were due a new edition – and some are due later this year. This part of the Police Blog will consider the proposed new regulations, what is new, what is different and how everything fits together.