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IOPC director general: Low threshold in misconduct case to answer 'not helpful'
Fedster + posted a topic in Police Oracle FeaturesMichael Lockwood wants to move away from a 'treadmill' approach. Michael Lockwood IOPC director general Date - 13th September 2018 By - JJ Hutber- Police Oracle 6 Comments The leader of the police watchdog has admitted performance and misconduct issues are conflated “all too often”. Michael Lockwood, Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) Director General said the organisation is re-considering both its case to answer test and its definition of misconduct at the Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA) conference this week. Speaking during a workshop on the IOPC’s plans for the future he said: “We have, as you know, a case to answer test and the level of test is could the panel find it [the allegation] proven. “The problem is the threshold is very low. We end up dealing with things and investigators do not end up with a result. “The threshold is not helpful. “We’re looking for some new words that improve that threshold. “It’s not in anybody’s interest - hopes [of the alleged victim] are increased and then it doesn’t happen. “My other issue is the definition of misconduct is not tight enough. “I’m keen that misconduct is dealt with by misconduct. “If it’s a performance issue it should be dealt with by performance. They’re coming together too much so I’m looking at a clearer definition,” he said. “They’re smashed together in a big lump. We are pushing so hopefully the rules will change early next year.” Mr Lockwood says he wants to move the IOPC away from a “treadmill” numbers approach to investigations and towards a common sense outlook, taking the context of policing into consideration. The director general, who was formerly chief executive of Harrow Council, said he had suffered “demoralising” inspectors who treated investigations as a “tick box” exercise, always criticising with the benefit of hindsight. “I’ve got to look at the wider system - the link between local authorities, health and yourselves. “We can improve training, we can improve awareness but there’s a fundamental system issue and with austerity you’re left carrying the can. The last resort on the ground. “You’re left holding the baby. We’ve got to make that clear. “I’m hoping [for] a more grown up approach. It’s very easy to put something in a box and tick it.” Instead, Mr Lockwood wants to focus on learning. He says he is aiming to build a trusting relationship with police and encourage forces to highlight “near misses” so he can develop avian industry-style prevention work. “I do not find it satisfying every year dealing with the same problem, so I want to work with you stopping that problem. “We’ve got a lot of work to do internally identifying that learning from investigations,” he admitted. “Every year statistics say deaths in custody, deaths following police contact, a significant portion are with mental health. “I’m really keen to work together on this issue - is it about risk handling, is it about training, is it the system, is it about verbal de-escalation rather than restraint? “[On] many occasions have your colleagues been left holding the can when the service doesn’t turn up, something goes wrong and then they’re investigated “I’m really interested in pushing the boundaries in looking at the system. Officers in custody suites were telling me these people shouldn’t be here but they have to be because there’s no bed for them.” Mr Lockwood said his main worry is a timelag on legacy cases and has himself looked at cases and thought “how the hell have we got here?”. But he added while the Police Federation has complained the watchdog is slow and bureaucratic, the whole system contributes to the problem. Sometimes the federation takes three months to arrange a “no comment” interview and the Crown Prosecution Service and coroners take up to nine months to organise hearings, he said. “I’m just saying the system is a more complex one.” Mr Lockwood also said he is open to suggestions to help improve the welfare of officers under investigation. “It’s clear welfare is a big issue”, he said. View On Police Oracle
Misconduct reforms to 'shift the culture from blame to learning'
Fedster + posted a topic in Police Oracle FeaturesMisconduct reforms to 'shift the culture from blame to learning' Package of dozens of changes to include giving IOPC power to present a case to a panel. Chief Constable Craig Guildford at a Police Federation event Date - 20th August 2018 By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle 8 Comments Major reforms, which aim to change the culture of the misconduct system from blame to learning, are on course to be in place next summer. Work has continued on the process first revealed by Police Oracle earlier this year and more detail has been developed. In an interview with this website, NPCC lead for complaints and misconduct Chief Constable Craig Guildford said: “The main thing is to try and shift the culture from blame to learning. “It’s about trying to encourage best practice from other professions such as the airline industry where the emphasis is on learning for the purposes of safety. As a profession this is the direction we need to travel in.” Among the measures being worked on are: Raising the threshold for what constitutes misconduct and gross misconduct. Issuing terms of reference to an officer subject to a notice. Requiring investigative bodies to produce reports explaining why a misconduct investigation is taking longer than 12 months to complete. Introducing more clarity around the IOPC’s case to answer test for directing misconduct hearings. Asked about the IOPC’s directed hearings, CC Guildford said in future he expects all watchdog investigations will have to be shown to be reasonable and proportionate. Recent cases involving the watchdog include a seven-year-old misconduct hearing thrown out because it was so old it would have been an abuse of process to continue, and a sergeant facing a gross misconduct hearing after being accused by an arrested man of stealing money – even though the alleged victim was evasive and uncooperative. “The case to answer test is on occasions a little bit misunderstood […] much of it comes from stated cases through litigation however [...] the IOPC will be refining their guidance and clarifying the elements of the case to answer test and this will hopefully address the obvious issues,” CC Guildford said. “The test will include an element of public interest and also whether it is necessary for misconduct procedures to follow. “The IOPC will also have the power to present a case themselves, and I think that will encourage a decision maker to reflect carefully on their final decision to do so.” At the moment the watchdog directs forces to hold hearings and present cases against officers, even when those constabularies have already determined there is no case to answer. The Nottinghamshire chief added that the IOPC under its new director general Michael Lockwood is already moving towards a more learning-based approach. But he said many cases being heard at the moment are based on old case to answer decisions. The major moves being discussed between chiefs, the Home Office, staff associations and IOPC require changes to police regulations, but not all do. A recent case covered on Police Oracle involved a Metropolitan Police officer who used his discretion to destroy a small amount of cannabis before moving on to a weapons search, without completing checks and paper work face a gross misconduct hearing. The case was brought by the force rather than the IOPC. Asked by our reporter whether professional standards departments could introduce a culture of learning themselves ahead of changes to police regulations, CC Guildford claimed that they already are doing so, but that there are limitations. “You’ve just given an example of where some would say PSDs have got it wrong. I think over the last three or four years since I’ve had this portfolio there has been a shift towards more learning but […] the existing legislation and statutory guidance which is the letter of the law, doesn’t always encourage that to be the outcome. “One of the key aspects going forward is effectively raising the bar for what is misconduct and what is gross misconduct. “We want to see cases moving forward [to hearings] where the expected outcome is to be the minimum of a written warning. "I see lots of cases now being resolved from that learning perspective and I know specifically colleagues in the Met have already started to adopt this approach.” He added: “The service is very good at identifying its own bad apples. But at the same time where a case involves death or serious injury I think it’s only right that the public can expect a full and transparent investigation.” It is expected that the draft regulations will be complete by the end of the year. They will then need to be approved by parliament before coming into effect. View On Police Oracle