Guidance on Police Unsatisfactory Performance, Complaints and Misconduct Procedures

Home Office circular 055 / 2003

Guidance on Police Unsatisfactory Performance, Complaints and Misconduct Procedures

  • Broad subject: Police Service
  • Issue date: Thu Nov 27 00:00:00 GMT 2003
  • From:
    CRIME REDUCTION & COMMUNITY SAFETY GROUP Police Leadership & Powers Unit
  • Linked circulars:
    No Linked Circulars
  • Copies sent to:
    Clerks to the Police Authorities (England and Wales)
  • Sub category: Police Discipline
  • Implementation date: Thu Nov 27 00:00:00 GMT 2003
  • For more info contact:
    Bronwen Lord 020 7035 5035
  • Addressed to:
    Chief Officers of Police (England and Wales)

Dear Chief Officer
Enclosed with this circular are amended pages to be inserted into the Guidance on Police Unsatisfactory Performance, Complaints and Misconduct Procedures. Because of changes to and renumbering of several paragraphs the whole of Chapter Three has been reprinted with the amendment date shown in the footnote. A new Index of Contents, which incorporates these changes, is also enclosed.

The changes are on the topics of:

i) “Attendance at hearings – Ill health” and “Hearings held in the absence of the officer due to ill health” (paragraphs 3.70 to 3.73). - The guidance makes it clear that, whilst reasonable efforts should be made to allow officers to attend hearings, it should not be at the expense of unreasonable delay and reverses the presumption in the previous guidance that misconduct should not be proceeded with when the option of medical retirement is available.

ii) “Suspension and removal from normal duties” (paragraphs 3.18 to 3.20); - The amended guidance makes it clear that it should normally be regarded as in the public interest to ensure that misconduct proceedings are concluded where the offence or allegation is of a serious nature, which might lead to dismissal, requirement to resign or reduction in rank or where the completion of disciplinary proceedings is necessary for the maintenance of public confidence.

iii) “The ‘friend’” (paragraph 3.58) - The guidance now provides for the attendance at the hearing of the accused officer's spouse or partner. Whilst this provision is not within the current regulations, it is considered to be good practice and will be included in new regulations which will come into effect on 1 April 2004.

iv) “Notification of investigation” (paragraphs 3.22 to 3.24) - The guidance now states that the wording of Regulation 9 notices should be specific and clearly refer to which principles of the Code of Conduct have been breached.

v) “Notifying the officer concerned” (paragraphs 3.47 to 3.50) - Changes have been made to the guidance on the disclosure of documentation to officers subject to disciplinary proceedings.

In the main these changes have arisen from issues raised in the government white paper “Policing a New Century: A Blueprint for Reform” published in December 2001, the Virdi Inquiry Report and elsewhere. You may recall that HOC 55/2002 was issued in response to these issues and was withdrawn on 18 February 2003 to allow for a further review to be undertaken. The guidance now circulated includes the results of this further consideration and has been agreed by the HMIC, ACPO, the Superintendents Association and the Police Federation within the Police Personnel Procedures Working Group under the umbrella of the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about these changes.


Yours faithfully




Bronwen Lord
Police Integrity & Community Relations Team

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