Anew Performance Requires Improvement (PRI) process, where officers will take part in Reflective Practice – similar to the old Local Resolution or Management Action system – has been rolled out to forces by the Home Office.
A key part of the changes include the misconduct threshold being raised – meaning all low-level matters will be dealt with through the PRI process, with misconduct processes being reserved for matters so serious that at least a written warning is required.
If an officer is found to be underperforming, or if their conduct does not fit the new definition of misconduct or gross misconduct, their Professional Standards Department may refer them to undergo the PRI process.
Once notified in writing, a line manager (the reviewing officer) will conduct a proportionate investigation, including asking for an account of what happened within five days, encouraging the officer to be open and acknowledge the effect of their actions and whether they have taken any measures since to learn as part of the Reflective Practice.
Subsequent steps will include the reviewing officer drafting a report with what actions, if any, have been agreed with the officer in question.
In some cases, there may be a referral to support services and additional welfare, or it may be appropriate for an apology to be issued either from the officer or the force.
The main objective will always be to embed learning and ensure performance is improved as quickly as possible; there will be no sanctions and officers will not be prevented from applying for or obtaining promotions or transfers.
Police Federation Conduct and Performance Lead Phill Matthews said: “After many previous reforms, the Home Office has listened to our concerns. ‘Blame culture’ belongs in the past. There needs to be a shift in mindset, whereby forces are alive to the fact that mistakes, errors or poor working practice can be corrected and learned from.”
He added: “Not only is a formal written warning a serious stain on an officer’s record, but misconduct hearings brought for mistakes which could have been dealt with through more appropriate means cause unnecessary stress for members who are already under strain. The formal misconduct process should in future be reserved for the most serious of cases only.”
Some forces have already begun to trial the new system, with the rest expected to adopt it once the new Conduct and Performance
regulations come in.
Date posted: January 9, 2020